Thursday, November 30, 2006

Yuh kinda quiet, eenh?

No, he wasn't quiet. Geritol spoke faster than any human I'd ever met.

He spoke at such a rapid speed it seemed his lips barely touched one another, the words bursting forth so fast that his own mouth could barely contain them.

We were taking my first of many bredren road trips, the rhythms of which I'd eventually come to understand and enjoy. But the very first time was like taking a test that I hadn't studied for, like landing on another planet without radio contact to Mission Control.

Houston, I've got a problem.

Peter decided he'd take me to Town. That sounds sweet, romantic even. Except that in Jamaica, when one goes to "town" it is universally understood to mean Kingston. Not exactly April in Paris. Still, I was excited about the prospect. I hadn't been anywhere in Jamaica except the seaside resort town of Negril. Well, that and the brief tour along the south coast that landed me in a rural hospital, so I was ready to get out and see more of the countryside.

First lesson: Never drive an empty unit (i.e. car)  to town

I thought it was just going to be the two of us, but as we headed out of Negril, we made several stops to pick up more passengers. According to the bredren code of ethics, one must always squeeze as many bredren as possible into The Unit. One never knows when a Unit will be available for the next mission, so share the experience. By the time we headed out of Negril, we were five in the rental car: Peter and myself in front, and Rough, Bigga Ford, and Jeremiah, aka Geritol, in the back seat.

Lesson Two: Don't ask what the plan is

I was the kinda control freak who liked to hit the road with a precise destination in mind, a map in the glove compartment, and perhaps some snacks on board. The only info I could glean from Peter was that we were heading toTown, and that I should "jess chill, relax, jess enjoy the drive."

Within minutes, the bredren had begun to talk loudly in the most rapid-fire, inscrutable language I'd ever heard. And Geritol was the fastest and the loudest, punctuating his comments with deep bellowing laughter. Minutes stretched into an hour, and I hadn't a clue what anyone was talking about.

I suddenly began to rethink my decision to agree to take this trip.

The patois was so thick, so indecipherable, they might as well have been speaking Greek. And even in Greek, I'd could at least have understood the occasional "souvlaki" or "ouzo", but this, well this was impossible. Even more frustrating, they were seemingly having the time of their lives. One would fire off an apparently pithy comment and the rest would bust out laughing; I never got the joke. I began to wonder if I WAS the joke. Paranoia set in.

Here I was, on the road to who-knew-where exactly? And to do what? Nobody would say exactly. Not that I would have understood even if they had told me. I started to get incredibly homesick, and felt horribly alone.

Peter must have sensed it because he finally tapped my shoulder and said, in English, "Yuh kinda quiet, eeeh? Yuh alright?"

"I can't understand a DAMN thing anyone is saying," I fumed. "Can't you guys just talk in English?"

Well that just made them all laugh even harder. And they lapsed right back into the patois. But Peter made sure I got food and drinks, pointed out sights to me (in English) and made certain to occasionally ask "yuh alright, Veek-toddya?"

So I made that journey as an observer, rather than an active participant. And I saw more on that 12-hour road trip than most visitors see in a week.

Lesson Three: For all control freaks, "jess sit back an' enjoy the ride"

Yuh Kinda Quiet, Eenh?
Ink and watercolor oen paper
Purchase a print of this painting here.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Some like it ROUGH

Or shall I call him Courtney? In hindsight, that name seems downright ridiculous. He will always be "Rough."

I can't recall if I met Rough during that tumultuous Accidental Weekend but odds are that he was drifting in and out of that experience, well below my radar, somewhere in the background.

Rough eventually became a constant fixture on my Jamaican landscape.

Rough could sleep on a two-by-four propped up on two piles of bricks. And if he tumbled off during the night, he'd drop asleep again before the dust settled. Man need fi sleep, so 'im jess sleep.

He once rode as the passenger on the back of a Ninja, as Peter drove them like one lightnin' ball from Westmoreland to Kingston, with speeds reaching above 120 mph. Big deal, you say? Mebbe so, but Rough would ride upon the back of that bike, lean his head gingerly against Peter's back and quickly fall fast asleep. Man need fi sleep, so 'im jess sleep, even at over 100 miles per hour.

But I remember that Rough liked his ladies soft. The bredren would chide him, tell him to clean himself up if he wanted to find a nice 'ooman. They'd scoff, "yuh frownsey, mon, yuh greeen an yuh need fi go bade" and hurl soap at him. But he didn't seem to lack for the ladies' attentions, particularly the full-figured women. Rough liked his ladies "mampey-sized". He couldn't have been much more than 5 foot 5 himself,  small in stature, but he loved those ladies who tipped the scales at well over 250 pounds.

I remember driving through Mobay with Rough in the back seat, the windows rolled down, of course, and listening to his commentary on the various ladies we passed. He suddenly leaped up and leaned half-way out the window, shouting "Heeeey, MY-Size!" to an enormous woman who was slowly strolling along the shoulder of the road. They grinned at one another and she waved at him as we sped off.

He eventually made it to the States. The paperwork was a bit shady, in typical Rough fashion, but it got him here. He had a baby mother and young daughter in Canada and hoped to work his way northward and settle down. Ahh, we thought, but he was still Rough. How would America treat him, and how would his rough ways serve him so far away from home?

Sadly, not too well.

Rough was stabbed to death in a San Francisco coffee shop.

There will always be someone else who is tougher than tough, rougher than rough.

Some Like It Rough
Ink and watercolor on paper
Print available here.

Monday, November 27, 2006

There's a new Sheriff in Town

This is Reggie. And it wasn't really his fault that my leg was shattered.

Well, at least for about a dozen years I thought his name was Reggie. Turns out his name is Cleveland. I guess if you are a young man growing up in rural Jamaica, you are as anxious to shed the name "Cleveland" as you are to shed your status as a likkle bwoy.

Cleveland became Reggie after repeated bredren viewings of "48 Hours", wherein Eddie Murphy, aka Reggie Hammond, announces the aforementioned sheriff line. I didn't learn this bit of history until many years later, when addressing a piece of mail and was laughed out of the room when I wrote "Reggie" on the envelope. It wouldn't be the first time I mistook a nickname for the real thing.


It was Reggie who was riding on a motorcycle in front of ours, his spiky short dreads held in place by a bright red beret. What is it with these guys and berets? I thought it hysterically funny that in the late 80s to early 90s, a stretched-beyond-recognition beret was a common choice of rasta headgear.

And the red beret, much like that infamous red balloon of classic French cinema, went sailing past us as we cruised into Whitehouse, just beyond Bluefields, on the south coast of Jamaica. Ever thoughtful, I tapped Peter's shoulder and signaled that we should turn back and collect Reggie's chapeau. We slowed and began a u-turn into the other lane.

In so doing, we were hit broadside.

Peter saw the oncoming car and leaped from the bike, later remarking, "Mi jump fram di bike but me look back and see yuh still 'pon it", referring to me, the passenger, and shaking his head in wonder. Well I wasn't "pon it" for very long. I shot into the air and had enough time to contemplate whether or not the absence of a helmet was going to be a problem.

You see, the car behind us chose that precise moment to overtake our bike and as they say in Jamaica, don't be an overtaker, or you'll soon meet the undertaker. And here we were jus the u-turn-maker. I hit the ground after what seemed like an eternity in the air, and landed foot first, to the sound of several loud Ca-RACK,CA-RACK,CA-RACKs, then landed on my backside, and finally, felt my head drop back onto the asphalt.

I immediately sat upright and grabbed hold of my skull to make certain it was intact. Skull in one piece? Check! My right leg, however, had a sickening, snakey curve that I knew was not quite right. The audio soundtrack of the previous 30 seconds gave me my first clue.


I guess it wasn't really Reggie's fault. I guess it was my own. And that's how I ended up flat on my back in the women's surgical ward in Sav La Mar hospital.

I met a cast of characters that fateful weekend, a cast that continues to grow and expand, move on and pass away. The Sheriff is no longer in town, but he still lays down the law in a new corner of the world.

I hope we'll see him again real soon. Sans chapeau.

New Sheriff in Town
Ink and watercolor on paper
Purchase a print of this painting here.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Meeting Miss Una

I checked myself out of the Black River clinic against the advice of the sole doctor in attendance. They had no x-ray equipment and no plans for treating me that day so I wanted out and I wanted to get to an actual hospital.

Or so I thought.

No ambulance service was available so Peter hailed down a local driver who insisted on the incredibly acceptable amount of $5 U.S. to transport me to the hospital in Savanna La Mar, some 40 minutes away. I had a makeshift splint on my leg, a shot of demerol, and delictately-split designer jeans, so we were off. Before we were allowed to depart, the nurse insisted on a $3 U.S. payment for services rendered. Done.

The hospital in Sav was not what I expected. I was wheeled in on a gurney, along a sidewalk lined with what seemed like hundreds of people, all ages and sizes, and all curiously interested in the white woman being wheeled past to the ER entrance. I guess it is human nature to stare down into the face of someone on a gurney as they pass, but it is downright bizarre to be on the receiving end, with stranger after stranger just staring you in the face.

After a long wait, various questions and inspections, I was admitted to the women's surgical ward and ascended to the 2nd floor in a rickety freight elevator. I was to spend the night; there were no x-ray technicians on duty on a Sunday so I would have to wait until morning to get a diagnosis for my shattered right leg.

The ward was large and full, with nearly 50 women occupying the narrow beds. An aisle ran down the center of the building, and there were several clusters of 4 beds on either side, broken up by low dividers. The walls were a bright, gaudy turquoise blue. The windows were not windows at all, but slatted wooden shutters, open to the outside, without screens. Remind me to tell you of the bird which flew in one side and out the other, the next morning.

I saw the bed reserved for me, but it had no sheets. It seems we had to provide our own. As I lay on the gurney by the nurses' station, a cockroach crawled along the guardrail. Hmmm. I wasn't certain that I had improved my situation.

Peter had disappeared briefly after I was admitted and suddenly re-appeared, bearing in one hand a small plastic bag filled with peeled oranges and cut-up pineapple and in the other, a small neat suitcase. Behind him stood a tiny, older woman with a cluster of short braids peeking out from under a turned-backward baseball cap. She wore a delicately flowered short-sleeved shirt, and a dark cotton skirt which hung below her knees. I couldn't see her feet.

"This is my mother."

Oh my. I offered my hand and introduced myself. And she shook it with a shy smile. I was surprised to see that although she had most of her teeth, several were black and rotting. A few had long gone. But Miss Una had packed me some sheets and proceeded to help make my bed. After the orderlies gently moved me from the gurney, I made room for Miss Una to sit near my feet. She gently smoothed the sheets but didn't speak much, except for a single word or two, and only when Debbie or I spoke to her.

Under the circumstances, small talk was virtually impossible. She was inscrutable. I offered her one of the oranges Peter had brought me. We both chomped away on them, it was a good alternative to conversation.

Meeting Miss Una
Ink and watercolor on paper
Purchase a print of this painting here.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Debbie and The Accident

I may have followed Isabel's nose to Jamaica, but it was Debbie who was by my side when I was hit by the car near the border of Westmoreland and St. Elizabeth parish.

As we pulled into the clinic at Black River, I remember seeing a hand-lettered sign that read "Emergency Service only on Saturdays and Sundays." It being Sunday, I guess we were in luck. Sort of.

It seemed like hours passed before I was wheeled out of the loading dock admitting area and into an actual operating room. The place felt ancient. The tiled walls were a pale, institutional blue; there were two Ben-Casey-era overhead lights, like octagonal space ships, each with 6 separate bulbs, hanging overhead. There was a plaque in the wall with a nozzle, and the word "oxygen" engraved above it. I had a hard time imagining any kind of actual surgery taking place in this room.

The nurse was very calm. Almost disinterested. She didn't want Debbie to stay with me, but we insisted. She also refused our request for ice, basic first aid, and said simply, "wait fi de doktah." So Debbie asked for a glass of ice water instead. And dutifully plucked the ice from the mug to place upon my injuries.

The nurse asked if she could cut open my jeans. Jeezus. I had to be wearing the expensive jeans. "Can't I just slip them off, ma'am?" I asked.

"No miss, bettah if mi jess cut dem." And she carefully cut apart the seam threads with a razor, making certain not to damage the denim itself. That gives you some idea of how much time we had on our hands until a doctor arrived. Not to mention the thrifty nature of a Jamaican who knew an expensive pair of jeans when she saw them. If they were HER jeans, she'd want them spared. She slit those jeans from ankle to hip, stitch by stitch, gradually spreading apart the leg of my pants.

I think Debbie was afraid to look.

I asked her, "How, how bad is it? What's it look like?"

She glanced down at my leg and then looked at me, blinked once and said, "It's not so bad. Really. Not so bad. I think maybe your ankle might be broken, but really, not so bad."

That's why Debbie is my best friend. She'll tell you the truth when you really need to hear it.

And lie like no tomorrow when you don't.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Where do I begin with Isabel?

Well, with her nose, of course.

Isabel has a spectacularly curvaceous and voluptuous nose. You've heard of a woman's figure being described as Reubenesque? Well, Isabel's nose was, indeed, Reubenesque. She is petite, with dark luminous eyes, thick wavy black hair, a mischievous smile, and all of her features dance around the sensuous, powerful anchor in the center of her face. I cannot imagine her without it.

Her mother offered --no, I guess "highly encouraged her", would be more accurate, to "fix" it when she was a teenager. Isabel was horrified at the thought. Noses were being bobbed or shaved in every corner of her affluent New England community, but this one, Isabel decreed, would not be among them.

For as Isabel saw it, if an adolescent girl chooses to take a scalpel to her face, perhaps it is not her nose that is in need of repair.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Anke, one of the von Trapps

No. Not really.

But those beautiful young German women all look like a grown-up version of those sound-of-music kids. Sleek and chic, a bit chilly in her demeanor, but not unkind. We'd arrived on her doorstep, thanks to Fritz, and she looked at us with an aloof curiosity, if that makes any sense. Not bothered by our arrival but not exactly delighted. I don't blame her. I expect she was accustomed to her roommates inviting all sorts of strays into their home at a moment's notice. Still, she could have shut the door to her room and said "Gute Nacht" and be done with us. Which is what I probably would have felt like doing.

I'd like to think the flowers and wine helped smooth the transition of our role from strangers-on-the-phone to house guests. And the next morning, Anke made us cups of piping hot herbal tea, and then sliced thick slabs of a delicous, dark, German bread for toast, slathered with butter and jam. She was charming and sweet.

And I adored the luscious silk scarves she and her best friend used to accessorize their thrift-shop outfits each day. One day a cobalt blue, the next a deep chocolate brown, and the next a dreamy emerald green. I took note. To this day, I know my winter ensemble is not complte without the appropriate smashing swath of color draped about my neck.........

Danke, Anke.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

When in Berlin, call Fritz

Well, no. We didn't call Fritz. We called Andreas.

Andreas was an acquaintance of my friend, Joan. Joan had met Andreas briefly a few years hence when they crossed paths somewhere in Eastern Europe. Joan had provided me with Andreas' number should we run into any difficulty in Berlin.

"He's cool. He'll hook you up. Mention my name." Of course, that's all I needed.

So we arrive in Berlin, just months after the first chunks of the wall between East and West had begun to crumble. Literally. I have pieces of it stashed in my closet with my winter boots.

And since we'd arrived in the middle of the Amazon at 3am without a reservation, we figured we certainly could do the same in Germany. Berlin would be a cakewalk.

Yeah. Well that's what some of Bush's generals said about Iraq -- "cakewalk."

Anyway. So.

We slowly discover there is not a room to be had in West Berlin because every journalist/carpetbagger/adventure traveler worth their salt was in town for the events which were unfolding daily. We were S.O.L. So I dug deep into my backpack and pulled up Andreas' telephone number and headed for a pay phone.

And Fritz answered my call.

He was one of Andreas' roommates and no, he said, Andreas was not home. Andreas was traveling and would be gone for a few weeks, perhaps a month. Crap. I explained who we were, and how we had obtained Andreas' number and the spot in which we had unexpectedly found ourselves. The closest place with a vacancy was nearly two hours out of the city. We were only in Berlin for 5 days and were hoping we could find a central place to crash, the cheaper the better. Did he have any recommendations?

"Hmmm", said Fritz, "Let me teenk". He paused. "Call me bock und fife meen-utes."

I thanked him, hung up and then we stood, staring at our watches for ten minutes. And called him back.

"You may stay veeth us," Fritz said. "I haff talked eet oh-vair veeth my rrrrooom-mates and vee vant you to come hair." I almost peed my pants. He began to recite their address. I had no pen so I grabbed a lipstick out of my toiletry bag and began scribbling the information with "Cherries On Ice" on the remnants of my boarding pass.

"Vee vill see yooo sooon!" he said and we hung up. We bought a big bouquet of flowers and a bottle of wine for our anonymous hosts, hailed Und Taxi and we were off.

I couldn't believe it. He was a roommate of a young man who was an acquaintance of a friend of mine from another country. And he invited us, sight unseen, to stay in his home with his two other roommates.

When that wall came down, I think it freed up more than a political boundary.

It was a wonderful time.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


"Alyssa, what? Go on, what were you saying, what was it about NYU? Go on, what were you saying?"

She kept gazing off toward the corner of the room, smiling.

"What? Oh, sorry, I was just looking at all those shoes...... hmm......what did you say?"

That just struck me as hilariously funny.

As many of my fellow NYC dwellers do, we ask that visitors take off their shoes when they arrive at our apartment. The streets are filled with all sorts of unmentionable this-and-that and you can keep a much cleaner house if the Outside Shoes are left at the door.

Some folks are quite the fascists when it comes to street shoes while others --- not so much. The former gives the ardent purveyor of footwear quite the visual banquet upon entering a busy household.

Alyssa was lost in thought at our collection of flip flops, sneakers, leather boots, and Clarks. So much so, that she forgot what we were talking about as she entered our apartment. I had to snap my fingers a few times to get her back. Stay with me, Alyssa.

Here's a question for you --- how old is Alyssa? Don't let the painting fool you........

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Lovely Rita

We had a party in NYC to celebrate our journey through South America. I included in each invitation a beaded necklace, from which hung a plum-sized, varnished piranha head, jaws opened wide.

Who could resist?

Rita came, the most beautiful woman at the party. Aaahh, why did I capture her in the least flattering pose, looking straight up her nostrils? She'd had enough partying. The blow-gun contests, the thick black Brazilian Xingu beer and a couple of caiparinhas got the best of Rita.

She flopped on a bed, amidst the pile of all our guests' heavy winter coats and, as usual, struck a glamorous pose.

Girl can't help it.

Monday, November 13, 2006

The last in the chair, at the end of the day

And I think this concludes the Amazon series for a while........

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Domino theory in action

Caroline just won those girls over, braid by braid. No sooner was one little girl sauntering through the bush with her new from-foreign-hair-do, then the next sister had plunked herself down on the stool for her turn.

Nary a word was spoken. At least nary a word that could be understood.

But really, what needed to be said?

Friday, November 10, 2006

Have comb, will travel

Caroline took time with each of the girls, from youngest to oldest.

Except of course for the surly, sultry teenager.

But the little girls... what more can you say? They fall in love with you so easily.

Have Comb, Will Travel
Ink and watercolor on paper.
Purchase a print of this painting here.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The way to a girl's heart...

--- is often through her hair. Just ask any woman who's suffering through a bad hair day.

We were a group of 6 in all:

Myself and my friend, Ali

A married couple from Swizterland, Ursula and Jorg, who spoke very little English and so were just as isolated from the rest of our tourist group as they were from our Brazilian hosts

A twenty-something single woman from England, Alexandra, also known as Ali (source of some confusion), who'd been traveling solo for nearly 5 months

And a pair of twenty-something single women from New Zealand, Caroline and Fiona. They'd been away from home for nearly two and a half years. They alternated between working in whatever country they happened to be in at the moment and then shooting off on a traveling adventure. They'd just arrived in Brazil after living and working odd jobs for five weeks in Venezuela.

And it was the evervescent Caroline who warmed up the girl children in our host home. She whipped our her comb, brush and some colorful hair elastics and was an immediate superstar.

Solange is delighted with the french braid Caroline meticulously created for her.

No, really. I know she's not grinning from ear-to-ear, but, well, I don't think that she grinned form ear-to-ear very often.

She was shy and slow to smile, but delighted nonetheless.........

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Mixed Reviews

Delight coupled with trepidation.

Hmmmm - this was better than the outright disdain of their older sister.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Amazon Adolescent

Despite the warm welcome from The Old Man, not everyone was delighted to have us as their guests.

Sullen and sultry, this 16-year old daughter of the family was less-than-pleased to have yet another noisy gang of foreigners descend on her home. It meant money for the family, yes, but it also meant more dirty floors to sweep, more meals to prepare in the outdoor kitchen and more dirty dishes to wash at the riverside.

And you know how teenage girls feel about housework.

She gave us the once-over as we clambered up on the verandah of their home, and then turned her gaze back across the lagoon from whence we'd come, stealing a few more private minutes to herself.

Monday, November 06, 2006

A Cable Knit Sweater in the Tropics

Our plane landed in Manaus at 3:30am and we had neither a plan nor a reservation. A dog-eared guidebook and a little faith in the local taxi driver can make up for the lack of a meticulous itinerary. A 20-minute cab ride to downtown Manaus cost us about $8 US, and we were delivered to the door of the Pensao Sulista.

We woke up the young desk clerk -- well, I guess you'd call him the desk clerk. He was shirtless, and sleeping in a hammock in the cramped lobby. He showed us one of the two rooms available, it had AC, no private bath, and 4 twin beds. Although there were only two of us, we were bleary-eyed and exhausted, so we took it, much to the relief of the desk clerk who clearly was anxious to get back to his hammock. Total cost, 80 cruzados, or about $12 US a night.

It wasn't until we'd spent a few days exploring Manaus, then making our memorable riverboat ride on the Dejard Vieira down the Amazon, that we thought it fit to finally get back into the jungle itself. Our inimitable desk clerk directed us to an independent guide, who was making a pitch to several other guests one morning in the lobby. We were invited to live with a family in the jungle, rustic but comfortable accommodations, all meals, transportation, daily excursions, hikes, fishing in the jungle, all for $30US per person per day, 5 to 10-days tours available.

We didn't hesitate; we put our money down.

And this kindly gentleman was to be our host. We didn't meet him until the next day, after a long, worrisome journey beyond the city limits. We traveled first by boat, then by a local bus which brought us to another boat, which motored across lagoons and tributaries before we pulled up to the shore in front of a wooden structure on stilts.

The owner of the home, this man with the gentle eyes, invited us in to his humble home. He wore this soft, orange cable-knit sweater most days, which struck me as just a preposterous sartorial choice for living in the jungle. I don't recall his name; our guide simply referred to him as The Old Man..........

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Merlene and the Machete

Bamboo grows so quickly, I've been told, you can almost see it pushing up through the sand. Or dirt. Or just about wherever you choose to plant it. And with a two-month stay at Jamaica's Whistling Bird stretching out before us, we thought we'd see the clump of new stumpy bamboo stalks sprouting along the path from our cottage to the beach, soon stretch way above our heads.

Our three-year old was the perfect height to measure a stalk of new bamboo. At Jim's suggestion, we lined her back-to-back with a recent sprout, which was just about ear-height. Snap a few photos now, he'd advised, and then at the end of our stay take another and compare the miracle of tropical flora. There were several looming tree-like bamboo stalks already swaying high up in the ocean breeze, and just a handful of new growth bursting forth to join them.

Line up, 'farii. Kick off your sandals, back up to the stalk and smile at the camera. We snapped away. Of course this was a pre-digital-camera journey, so we would have to wait for the film to be developed at home to witness our natural miracle. Each day we'd give the stalk a glance and do a mental review of where it may have been and how much it might have grown. We thought we might just take a new photo every week, we couldn't wait two months. How cool to watch it spurt up every 7 days, presuming of course that our daughter's summer growth would lag considerably behind?

But Merlene had other plans.

This is the face of the sweet, quiet, demure and always-just-barely-smiling Merlene. Dancing eyes, she has. Quiet, she would walk up behind you and rest one hand gently on your shoulder while casually placing a handful of ginneps or a fresh mango into your lap with the other. Then she'd just smile, gliding off, barely speaking.

And Merlene wields a machete with the same aplomb as your average American woman wields her lipstick.

Yes. You see where I am going this this, no?

We took our usual walk along the path to the beach one morning and were stunned to see all the new stumpy bamboo stalks, including our precious Summer Growing Friend, all laying in tattered bright green shreds. Just the grown-up bamboo, no infants to be found.

Unaware of our rather dorky Tourist Science Project, Merlene had just been doing her job. Keeping the place tidy. "Yuh mus hole dung de bush, seen?" For the "bush" unchopped on a regular basis, is the "bush" run amok.

Merlene and the Machete became our summer story, rather the Miracle of Mother Nature.

It's a better story.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Window to the Rainforest

I'm still working up my notes on the brief time we spent living with a family in the Amazon, several hours inland from Manaus. I want to get it right so for tonight, just a picture of the women of the family, checking us out as we pulled up in the dug out canoe.