Aug

18

 The further from civilization the odder the adventure, and the most distant town from any civilization in the world is Iquitos, Peru. A trio of adventures, like vitamins, in the past three days include:

Three days ago, on my walk around Progresso Island on the other side of the Rio Amazon, I heard a whistle that was unlike any bird sounded in a hundred walks during the previous five years. A barefoot man in a policeman shirt waved me down along the jungle path. He ordered, 'Halt!' and I replied, 'What for?' and continued walking as he followed blowing. My rule is never stand with a policeman without a witness. I know about 400 of the 500 poor inhabitants on this Island,, and stopped in 100 meters in the shade under the thatched hut of a señora whose children I teach English. She vouched for me as an eccentric exercising tourist, as I advanced. The whistle blew in five minutes in my ear, and I ducked into the house of a family whom I buy warm sodas from on hotter days. They introduced the shoeless man as the island Mayor, who visits every few months, and so I gave him a chance to talk. 'There are some bad fellows on the Island to beware of,' he warned, to which I scoffed, 'I know all the people and none is bad, and YOU are the only person who has molested me. I may run against you in the reelection.' Without batting an eye, the Mayor smiled, pumped my hand, and raised my arm shouting, El Americano!' He just wanted the citizens to see him as important.

Yesterday, in the city of Iquitos, I flagged down a policeman wearing a white shirt and white holster from his motorcycle. 'Will you help me?' I asked, and he listened patiently in the bustling Mercado Modelo as I described how a few days earlier a señora vendor had sprinted from behind her pile of oranges and beaten me on the chest with her fists, and it was too high to reach, so she had whacked me repeatedly with a broomstick. She had shortchanged me the day before, so I had taken a pitcher with an inch of orange juice to search for a policeman. Not finding one, I was now returning the pitcher, and asked the officer to accompany me for protection. When we reached the orange juice stand minutes later, the señora started out with the broom again, caught the policeman's eye, and retreated behind the oranges. The Tourist Police are a specific body of the National Police trained to protect, serve and orient the tourists. He asked for her side of the story, but when she omitted the assault, it was her word against mine. I produced a typed Spanish copy of exactly what had occurred. She shrank behind the pile of oranges, and he asked if I wanted to make a denunciation, which is a shameful thing to happen in Peru. I declined, saying I just wanted to be able to pass safely through the market, and he gave me his calling card to ensure it.

The third thing happened late last night. I rarely dream, and have no memory of a single one in over a year. However, I've been chased by many dogs recently that must have been working on my unconscious. I woke up in the middle of the night in the act of kicking a snarling dog, and kicked hard the concrete wall next to my bed. My big toe is broken.

No big deal, and today will be another adventure.


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