By Mario Vargas Llosa
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Additional resources for A Fish in the Water: A Memoir
I felt very proud to be the grandson of somebody so important: the prefect. I went with Grandpa to certain public functions—inaugurations, the parade on national holidays, ceremonies at the Grau barracks—and was puffed up with pride when I saw him presiding over the meetings, receiving the salutes of the military, or delivering speeches. With all the lunches and public ceremonies he had to attend, Grandfather Pedro had found an excuse for the avocation he had always had and which he encouraged in his oldest grandson: composing poems.
The country’s reserves were being depleted; because of its confrontation with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank—the bêtes noires of the speeches delivered by President García—Peru had seen all the doors of the international financial system slam shut; the printing of paper money with no backing so as to cover the fiscal deficit was making inflation worse; the dollar, maintained at an artificially low price, was increasingly discouraging exports on the one hand and encouraging speculation on the other: the best deal for a businessman was to get an import license that allowed him to pay for what he ordered from abroad with cheap dollars (there were any number of rates of exchange for the dollar, depending on the “social necessity” of the product).
The dunes that surround Piura, with their stretches of quicksand, their clumps of carob trees, and their herds of goats, and the mirages of ponds and springs that can be glimpsed there in the afternoons when the red ball of the sun on the horizon tinges the white and gold sands with a light the color of blood, make up a landscape that always impressed me, and that I have never tired of looking at. When I contemplated it, my imagination would run away with me. It was the ideal setting for epic deeds, by cavalrymen and adventurers, by princes who rescued damsels held prisoner or by brave men who fought like lions and routed evildoers.
A Fish in the Water: A Memoir by Mario Vargas Llosa