Our walking tour of Callao and La Punta is still in full effect. I had a great time wandering the passages and dungeons of the Fortress Real Felipe in the dark. But I’m suddenly not feeling the whole museum scene. This is bad because we still have the Museo Naval De Peru, the submarine, La Punta, and lunch to go. I tell myself not to be such a wet blanket and pay the three soles to get into the Naval Museum. Rodney has been before so he tells us he’ll wait for us across the way. The rest of us; me, Larry, Juan Carlos, Oswaldo, Victoria and Katrina clomp inside.
The first thing I see on entering is a man on his knees with his hands behind his head. His wife takes his picture as he poses.
It’s funny. It’s also disturbing. It reminds me too much of the Goya painting I studied in Art History in college. It reminds me too much of the ways we kill each other. It reminds me of the pain and suffering and the end of life. I’m all for action shots, this one almost hurts me to see. I don’t want to ever die.
On that morbid note I split off from the group and we all go our separate ways. It’s a naval museum highlighting all the naval battles and the sinking of ships and the killing of men and the conquest of nations. I’m upset with killing. In this mood I’m halfheartedly glancing at things behind glass cases until I come to the navigational room.
On the ceiling are pinpoint lights marking the constellations. I love constellations. I love the stars.
I love the planets and asteroid belts and quasars and black holes and supernovas and regularnovas and the Milky Way and suns and the television show Star Trek Voyager and comets. Comets are really cool. In my next life I’m going to be really good at math and become an astronaut. I’ve always been a fan of space. In those questions about whether you’d want to go to the depths of the sea or into outer space I always choose outer space. The depths of the sea seem so much more frightening. It’s so dark down there and who knows what giant large-toothed thing is just lurking behind a rock waiting for a human sized me to swim by. I also have a healthy fear of drowning, but not one of explosive decompression apparently. All that to say, I love stars. I love the word declination. The idea of navigating the sea by the sky is brilliant and props to whatever really smart dude thought that up. I love the word sextant.
I mean, it’s so bold a word. What’s not to love about that? I kneel down to take some photos. The firing squad man and his wife hover near me. He asks if the pictures come out. I show him that they do, but we all agree the angle is wrong. He goes into the middle of the room and lies on the floor.
When he’s done taking his pictures I follow his suit. He’s my type of picture taker. He and his wife are having fun together in the Naval Museum and this makes me very happy. My morbidity flees and I am dreaming about the stars.The next room is dimly lit. On one side of the room there are ancient maps. On pedestals along the other wall are old figureheads. There’s something so magical about figureheads. They were used in ancient times in illiterate societies as a way to identify and name a boat. In other societies the figureheads were mounted at the front of the ship in order to ward off evil spirits. They’re the first eyes. The lookout. They’re perfect images to make stories around.
When we were little, my parents taught me and my sibs not to touch things in stores. We had to keep our hands to ourselves and better yet, in our pockets. This was mostly because there were six of us and they didn’t want to pay for things we might break. Also it’s just good manners. The idea of not touching was ingrained in me. I appreciate that. It’s kept me out of trouble for a good portion of my life. Somewhere over the years, however, I stopped obeying. Now I really like to touch things. When I see this steering wheel I have to spin it. One if by land, two if by sea. Land ahoy! Avast.Victoria and I cross paths and she says, “I feel so free in the museum. Like I can touch things and really look at them and it’s okay.” I feel the same way. I got yelled at in museums in both NYC and Washington D.C. and I wasn’t even touching anything there. But I evidently broke the personal bubbles of the artwork. Americans like their space.
I go past the torpedo. I don’t remember what movie it was depicted in –perhaps the 1943 film The More the Merrier-- but I have this eternal image in my mind of some military type man yelling, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” Which also means that anytime I see a torpedo (which is actually more rare than you’d think, thank goodness) or hear the word I shout that phrase out in my head. I used to be so shocked with myself for using such strong language.
I leave the room before I shout the words out loud.
I catch up with my boyfriend in the Antarctic. We’re so happy together. I tell him all I’ve seen and all that I’ve eaten that day so far. Which now that I think about it isn’t that much. No wonder I’ve been having such morbid death thoughts. A snack does wonders for the soul. I forget my dreams of the stars and start dreaming about lunch.I’ve made my museum circuit. I backtrack to gaze one more time at the constellations on the ceiling and then go to stand with Rodney outside.
The others seep out one by one. Katrina is the last.“Did you see the krill?” she asks.
“No, I missed it.” I’m pretty sure I know what krill is. I’m almost positive krill is what the Baleen whales eat. I also love whales (but not the Orca). But sometimes I mix up words.“You want to see it?”
I suddenly have a deep and unquenchable desire to see krill. So we walk back in the museum leaving our tour mates to wait for a little bit longer. I smile at the ticket lady and wave my ticket stub her way. I follow Katrina back inside through the main room and back to where my Antarctic boyfriend is standing.On a glass covered stand, in a glass jar are the krill.
Oh Krill! With one look at these little black eyed things I add another creature to my list of Strange Things I Really Love A Lot. Already on this list are: Bats, Octopi, Earthworms, Snails, Manatees, and now Krill.“I want them!” I tell Katrina.
“To eat?” she asks. “They look like they’d taste similar to shrimp.”
I’m horrified. “Not to eat!” I exclaim. “I want them alive. I want them…” I think I stop myself before I complete my sentence to say, “I want them to be my friends,” but with me, you just never know.