Since I was child there has been in my family a leather- bound copy of a book called “In Tropical Lands” written by my great-great grandfather Arthur Sinclair, the front page promises to take the reader on an adventure to the sources of the Amazon and a pull-out hand drawn map marks out the route.
This book has always fascinated me and my father, the writer, Iain Sinclair.
Although the book describes Arthur’s eventful journey in 1891, by mule across the Andes, and by balsa raft down the Perene River, accompanied by Catholic priests, and King Chokery ruler of the local indigenous tribe - it never reveals his true purpose.
Some initial research turned up newspaper articles in the Aberdeen Press, and the shadowy presence of the mysterious Peruvian Corporation emerged. I ordered up boxes which were delivered to the National Archives in Kew, and I was locked in a room and allowed to read from the beginning this secret part of Britain’s history. There was a phone in the locked room in case I wanted to get out.
I made contact with an anthropologist working with the local Asheninka people in the Chanchamayo region of Eastern Peru, their endangered language now only spoken by 300 people, and one elderly man Elias who remembers the last days of the Peruvian Corporation. This could be our last chance to hear this story in the original language.
On Wednesday 26th June this year my father and I will be boarding a plane to Lima to begin Arthur’s journey again, follow in his footsteps and find out what on earth he was doing there.
I will be recording a series of podcasts, conversations with my father, throughout our journey so you can follow our progress, as we go in search of Arthur’s ghost, The Peruvian Corporation, King Chokery and Elias. How far will our journey take us? Will we make it as far as the original expedition to the treacherous cascades at Ipoki?
Although our journey is partly funded by the British Documentary Fund, it is mainly self-funded. We need additional funding to help pay for local fixers and translators, and for recording equipment. With your help we can re-open this secret chapter of time. We will find a way to thank you for playing a part in the adventure.
“Patience! And ye shall hear what he beheld in other lands, where he was doom’d to go” (Byron)