Wordcarpenter Books

Chapter Ten

Into Amazon Waters


            There was a bond they all share when they exercise their unique abilities partying in the pubs of Quito, and it was this bond that created new things, new ideas and new laughter when they came together on a full moon. There were no curfews, no parents, no old hang-ups and reminders of their shortcomings. They talked as if they had all shed a skin, as if new levels of excellence could be attained. It's the grand secret that none of them mentioned, an extra lightness in their step, and new possibilities descend upon their imaginations like a narcotic that inspires, a new personal best that only you and God witness.

            The aching decline of his culture was thousands of miles away, in a different hemisphere, a place full of "no's" and "cannots.' The explosion of genius erupted like a hot spring, warming and comforting him in his aloneness, a dormant force that said "yes!" and a power that bursts forth from a forgotten spring. The new environment was the lost key that opened the door to a truer, freer sprit. Forgotten dreams reawaken because you were in a new age and new world, where time was fresh and people believed you. Exhaustion and latent fears of sterility no longer poisoned the spirit, no longer possessed you. There was no more saving for tomorrow and no more school night to hinder and restrict. The resounding yes a bugle call that used the butane as yet unused, the extra kick that took you into a new genius, a higher plain on the mountain where your old favorite peak was now reachable.


             Just as they did in Ireland, when last call for booze came and went, the front doors were locked. No one could leave except quietly out the back door. The music was turned down but the drinking and carousing continued.

             Reno had become a regular, staying many times. He only met Diego at the very end of the night when Paullina was talking about how she dated the son of the Turkish prime minister and the numerous times she had been assaulted by him during their two-years marriage. Sure Reno was empathetic but he was a cad first and foremost and was mostly concerned about his terrible heartburn that rankled from every swig of his warm, flat beer. He was going to leave for guesthouse but when Paullina, after she had finished her tears, invited Reno and James the air force pilot to her apartment for a nightcap. He had only been talking to Diego for Five minutes.

             But there was something different about him. An enthusiasm that could be heard in his voice that was incongruous with the blue and red tattoos that covered his right arm. He didn't seem tough enough to have been in jail and he didn't look rich but it felt like he had a secret. He was a man who wanted to be included. He insisted he came with them as if leaving with three gringos was earning him brownie points with the native South Americans. Reno didn't care. He wanted water to soothe his heartburn.

             But Diego rose to the occasion. His vehicle was parked right in front of the back door. He knew where to buy rum in the wee hours of the morning and he picked up his buddy Roman, whose disposition and clean pink skin invited confidence. But it wasn't until after the hot springs that Reno learned the whole story.


             The sun tearing at the skin through the open window, the first bottle of rum now finished. Diego, inspired by a well-timed taunt by Reno, who was in full control now, could not refuse to turn a dull Tuesday morning into something memorable and beautiful, and an experience good enough for this funny American. Diego sifted through his bag of speed, trying to convince himself that water was the most important commodity in the world.

            "Okay," he said, "we go."        

             Reno was relieved to leave Paullina's apartment. She had told them that both he and her mother had been crowned Miss Ecuador, and then had taken James the pilot by the hand to her bedroom and shut the door hours ago. With a nod from Diego, they left with Roman feeling boyish and mischievous, like schoolboys about to play hooky and break a whole bunch of rules.

             Hillsides of Quito illuminated in the morning sun in patches and uneven sections like an historic opera house decrepit like an old tourist attraction. The houses like a house of cards balanced on a mountainside. The slightest gust of wind, the shaking of the earth an avalanche of concrete. With one placed stop, Diego disappeared into a friend's house while Reno bought a bottle of rum, cold beer and cigarettes. Then, as if through serendipity and a divine nod from God, Diego and Reno did a large amount of coke and speed, and sped down the hill, Reno only knowing the destination was to water. Roman, with head tilted in casual acceptance, saw that his old friend Diego was up to trouble once again.

             At first Reno was glad Diego had taken such a large hit of the white powder because there was a better chance he wouldn't lose interest and call it off, but almost immediately it was obvious Diego had taken it as a personal challenge to not only take his new American friend on a tour of Ecuador but to also impress him with his rally driving skills. Reno watched him hit his stride, recklessly passing cars and trucks on his descent out of town. Just to show his approval, Reno lit a cigarette for him and put it to his lips as he downshifted, swerved from a big pothole and braced for a corner. Any other vehicle than the jeep four-by-four and the suspension would be shot and the axel bent.

             The coke with ketamine hit Reno in the solar plexus as if someone had plugged him into an electrical socket. Having grown up with videogames, the danger of this real-life videogame did not deter him. There were no outbursts to say go slower; there was only laughter when taking a corner right on the line. The four-wheel drift was soon expected. The utter disregard of the welfare of the vehicle was the most shocking. Hurtling down steep cobblestone roads Andean steep with a driver full of speed on a Tuesday morning passing any vehicle that wasn't speeding, corners sharp and potholed, semi-controlled skidding with no guardrails demarcating the Andean slopes. Reno reached for the seatbelt but again was thwarted. The belt was simply too small. Only the handgrip above the window and the back of the seat could hold him in place as the vehicle climbed and descended deeper into the Andes. Diego and Roman spoke Spanish while Reno smoked and held on to the seat and smiled, squinting into the sun.

            A deep white-water gorge cut to the bedrock exposing earth the color of sand. Ferns a cross between cacti and palm trees dominated the walls of rock. Tour buses climbed slowly, Diego speeding by without a thought to the police. Soon the 45-degree mountainsides began to level to a plateau, green grass covering the inaccessible terrain, the road the only sign of man. Dusty crumbling concrete in the air, not a building clean or chipped or unscarred yet strangely functional, like a lily pad half eaten in mid summer. Off-road motorcycles screaming and humming, smooth over the bumps, the four-wheeled drive unsteady and bobbing, churning the dusty sand of pavement into a fine wake of white.

            "Okay, now we climb," said Diego. Reno had been wise enough to ask where they were going, half toying with the idea they were headed all the way to the coast. "Do you know where we are?"

            "Somewhere in the Andes," Reno wanted to say but didn't want to tamper with the perfect temperament of the man who had his life in his hands. "No."

            "We're going to the Amazon. We call it the Oriente."

            "We're going to Brazil?"

            "Si. It will get very high. How do you say? Water goes one way and then water goes the other way. The middle of the Andes."

            "The Continental Divide?"

            "Si! Si! That's it. There are volcanoes and hot springs."

            "Agua!" Certainly the theme of the day.

            And they did climb, the mountains massive but not snow-capped, like a seven-foot tall basketball player wearing Birkenstocks. Then it started to rain. Again Reno tried to tie himself down with the seat belt but it was too small. The corners varied from 90- to 180-degrees, real mountain road snaking upwards, no guardrail. The steep role to death was merely a few feet away. But Diego and his super strong speed and his cold beer kept attacking the corners, now perfecting the four-wheel drift, both hands firmly on the wheel, gear changing only when necessary.

            Then out of nowhere he turned off the road to an ancient driveway. Nothing was said to him. They walked to a river where Diego sat.

            "Beautiful." Cigarettes. Wet grass. Total isolation. Then they all took a piss.

            Back in the Jeep more speed for everyone, and it all started again. Foliage like gigantic snakes intertwined and clinging, unmovable and growing with hardly a tree. Mountainsides inhospitable to human habitation, steep enough for vertigo.

            Wedged between two massive volcanoes they reached the hot springs. When they arrived it was hailing.

            "Families are here so watch yourself," said Diego with a nod.

            Reno insisted he pay the small fee that included swimming trunks, then bringing their clothes in a basket to the closest hot spring where they could see them. Hot. Then not so hot, until we went to the source. Steam rising, rain falling, bits of hail adding body to the downpour. Mountainsides a mangled mass of greenery, not a tree to be seen. Walls touching the sky on both sides, a small piece of paradise unknown to the world except a few. The joy and tremendous feeling of safety like a balm long needed.

            "We are about 13000 feet above the ocean," said Diego, looking proud.

"This water comes from a volcano," said Roman, who at a glance suddenly looked like Jesus. Hummingbirds darted around the pools as if they were for them.



Chapter Eleven
A Beautiful Repressive Niche


            Most people only take snippets from uni-sensory images seen briefly from electronic media, sound bites and consumer-driven sight to build a foundation of perception, which are full of half-truths and propaganda. Only from the horse's mouth of the doer can human potential be studied effectively; the look in the eye, a twitch of the mouth, the almost indecipherable sneer somewhere in the face, the uneasiness of a lie, the odor of heightened emotion, the limp muscles of defeat, the lines of experience, the able hands scarred from the contact with life, the quiver in the voice when the tragedy is reborn, the shaky fluttering words of joyful recollection, the impatience of wit barging out resulting in interruption and apology, the calm even tone of competence, the flush of a cheek of embarrassment, the lowered eyes of shame, the aura of flourishment and the lethargy of despair. This is the language of truth that speaks to the soul, not the mind, the world of moist subjectivity, not the world of dry objectivity.

            Without this language life can only be mundane, routine and humdrum, something almost detached and surreal. True engagement does take courage, but to be aware that you are acting in your own self-interest should be impetus enough to engage with an astute eye, looking for parts of people that speak to you subconscious mind on a higher level that can be identified by a tingling sensation, a smile on your face or the feeling of infinite possibility in your heart. Trust your intuition that gives you that inner voice that says: ‘that's it! That is cool.' And be mindful that thing, that "it" is different for each of us. Whether a doll or an airplane, an adventure or an idea, all is great for the will; all are pieces of your puzzle waiting to be considered, adopted and tested before they become part of you, another color in your character, more light for you to see who you are and where you would like to be in a world that has everything.

            Comfort was never part of life. It has never been a given or a constant; only pain and sorrow are the nuts and bolts of living, the alpha and the omega of life's journey. Accepting this as the underpinning prepares you for the injuries and bruises that accompany those who participate in the mix. It minimizes disappointment and causes you to relish the triumphs and moments of joy along the way. It guards against over-expectation and vexation, hardens your defensive armor during the battles that ensue. And it helps open the door a little wider to the action, to the melee where the scrum pushes and pulls and fights for supremacy.

            Learning from books will give you the conceptual apparatus that can function as a digestive tract, but without the sounds and smells and sights and feel it will always remain an empty stomach, flimsy and feeble, and forever on the verge of being blown over when in the presence of a man of action, a doer with his center a man in full.

            Close-mindedness and quick to judge inhibit growth and dwarfs character development; always a sign of a small man. Learn to identify these traits in others and then avoid them without being rude. Some very wealthy and powerful people are close-minded and quick to judge and label others, but below the material bells and whistles they envy the man of character, the does and explorer who has experienced so many of life's mysteries, absorbed the wisdom and fortified their self into a person with gravitas and someone who commands respect. This will always be the hierarchy of man. What the Small Man lacks in character he makes up in toys.

            Innovators explore; sheep follow. Does weigh more and have more than avoiders. Avoiders cannot help admiring the doer and the competence that is written all over his face and shown by the way he moved his body and by the he sounds. Herein lies what defines the pecking order of man. The avoider is also a sober man, in mind and body, a person without the knowledge of the highs and epiphanies of Bacchus and his higher realms of truth. He is a plain hamburger without the joys of condiments or the sesame seed bun, destined to be bland and uninteresting, overlooked and inwardly little. His laughter is shallow and false, coming from a barren room where the imagination has atrophied and dried up, void of the life force of anima, the spring and fuel of the man of character. The laughter booms with infectious glee from the man with inner knowledge and self-awareness, an audio beacon attractive to all recipient ears like a medicine that has the power to disintegrate and remove problems pressing down on the brow of man, a momentary blast of the coveted panacea hoped for by those burdened by gravity and ailments of passion. Laughter is the thunder of man, an emission illustrating his comfort and freedom of self, an intangible trophy earned from overcoming and conquering, a gigantic YAWP that reveal the level of evolution and how high he has climbed, the mark of a thinking man who has achieved balance between contemplation and action, a brewer who has mastered the art of distilling, a sharpshooter who has perfected his eye on the target that enhances and contributes in his never-ending snowballing of self and place, the inner exploration deemed by Socrates to be the most significant task of man.

            Laughter from the gut is the hallmark of a person who knows and has found a place within his worldview where all nuggets of knowledge fit with no hindering incongruities. It is the most genuine sound in the world; cadence overflowing that touches the soul of all from its sureness of truth, its celebration of knowledge. It is pure, without malice or scheudenfreunden, unstained by envy of derision, an explosion of joy that is impossible to ignore. It is the sound of a master, a sage and the coveted silent philosopher all aim to become. It is a declaration that he has the keys to the mysteries of life, the secret code of the mystics and the lightness of a child at play. It is the voice of unity, showing oneness of self and having the power to unify others. It is a sound that exemplifies the rhythms of nature, the primeval hum that all animals seek, a momentary fountain of youth, an elixir all thirst for. And the most valued medicine known to man.

            This is the fruit of a man's labors that seeks to find the truths of character, his place in the world and the poise and calm strength of having this knowledge. Therefore it is not a journey with any reward nor is it an empty task or a pointless exercise. It has as its gold mans highest yield, desired by king and peasant, loved and respected and admired by all yet possessed by so few.

            These were Reno's thoughts while soaking in the hot springs in volcano alley.

            "Watch out for hypothermia when we get out," said Diego, jolting Reno out of his tangential epiphany.

            Reno thought Diego was dabbling in hyperbole. Simply said they were on the equator. But his body temperature had risen so much that he did flirt with mild hypothermia, thanking God he had brought his black wool beret. His teeth were chattering when they reached the parked Jeep.

            "Diego, how many years has it been since you've been here?" Diego laughed.

            "Two days ago." He touched his wool jacket. Groovy, covered with indigenous designs, it was a beautiful piece of clothing, thick yet soft to the touch. Understated. And with class. Unique. Practical.

            "I sell these," he said. "In California, Mexico - where there is surfing." He didn't seem like a businessman but it did occur to Reno that he had found his niche and had perhaps been a top-ranked surfer or skateboarder who had made some serious bread through sponsorships. After all, he had the word "skateboarder" written across his abdomen. This was a far as he got with the Diego enigma until they stopped at his house an hour outside of Quito. Diego's expensive Jeep didn't match his tattoos and he didn't drive it like an owner. Once Reno attached himself to the puzzle, the riddle of Diego began to grow.

            Posh, high-security neighborhood but with the most impressive property in the enclave. Private electronic gate with two other expensive four-by-fours parked in the double garage.

            "The servants are here so please be quiet. Follow me." Instantly anxious, Noble glanced at Roman who nodded. Diego earlier had shown him a photo of his wife and two young daughters and had told me they were in Switzerland on vacation and then on their way to the Vatican.

            "Who wants to go to the Vatican!" he had said. Noble left it at that because he would've have gone, but he had also become aware that many young guys in South America were openly hostile to the Roman church.

            Diego was on his own for a couple of weeks.

"I have to make a call to my wife. Make yourselves at home but stay on the balcony and try to keep it down. I won't be long," he said and left to make the call. The house was massive, big enough to have two servants and a full-time gardener. The house was built on the side of a deep gorge. Palm trees, putting-green lawn, greenhouse, garden above the garage, patio; serious old Spanish wealth had built this work of art. It had a separate building across the yard stocked with hundreds of bottles of wine, a long table, bookshelves and a desk - a man's ideal getaway and study. When he asked Roman about the house he said it was Diego's wife's house given to her by her father. This, of course, was a corner piece of the puzzle.

            After, when Roman was having a nap, he and Diego went there where they promptly did a long, nostril-stinging line of coke, clearly in an effort to raise his spirits. He had spent almost two hours speaking to his wife on the telephone.

            "Jesus, you have everything here." Reno was back.

            "This is all an illusion," he replied, sweeping his hand over it all. Reno shook his head.

            "Maybe so, but every man needs a home base." These words pierced his armor and he started to talk. He loved his wife he said but it was difficult sometimes, that she kept him on a tight leash.

            "She's really strict about my partying," he said. "I don't know, sometimes I think I prefer Argentina to Ecuador." Diego sat on the couch in the corner. "I had some friends over about three days ago and when she called here the gardener told her I was having a big part. She was pretty angry. And I'm angry at the gardener."

            "It's none of his damn business," said Reno, speaking man-to-man firm. "You're the man of the house, tell him to mind his own business, that he sees nothing. Set him straight. You don't want a bloody spy in your own home."

            Perked, Diego said he didn't have any friends in Quito. Yes, he thought, that was it: Diego was being manhandled and suffocated by his wife, didn't have the freedom to party when and how he wanted, and didn't even have one good friend he could talk to.

            "Listen man, every man needs at least one guy who he can talk to about anything. Not a sister or father but a male friend. Otherwise you suffocate." Reno saw it now, how he drove into the city, hung out at the Irish Pub, met friends that only lasted a night and then he was back to where he was. In all the wealth that surrounded him the irony was severe.

            "Do you mind if I ask you what your wife does?"

            "She's a DJ."

            "DJ? As in disk jockey?"

            Yes, but she's really good, plays all over Europe. Ibiza and whatnot."

            Another corner piece  

            "She still does it but with the girls she's taken some time off."

            The melancholy was still there as they walked in silence along a trail just outside his fence overlooking the gorge and knew that it was time a man with nothing can still attain a sincere level of happiness, and that a man with such riches can truly be miserable.

            "I'll tell you man," said Reno with some gusto, "with your driving skills you should be a rally driver." Even Reno, who was seldom startled, was amazed at his turn of mood.

            "You think so?" he said, his stride quicker. The man hadn't found his niche.

            "You tell me you don't have the gift. Your driving today was world-class man." Like a child with warm milk and a nipple, the lightness returned, Roman was awakened and drinks were served.


Table of Contents

  1. The Divine Elbow
  2. Just Surviving As Noble Intent
  3. Surpassing Neophobia
  4. The Middle of the World
  5. The Dane
  6. The Religion of Sfauism
  7. Celebrating Chemistry
  8. Connected Columbians
  9. Stuntmen and Dakar Motorcycle Groupies
  10. Into Amazon Waters
  11. A Beautiful Repressive Niche
  12. Canalazo de Naranilla
  13. Cajunes el grande
  14. A Noble Doppelgänger
  15. Reno Finds His Footing
  16. How to Make a Bomb Out of a Light Bulb
  17. The Impossible Black Lily
  18. The Boy Fascist
  19. Artistas
  20. The Art of Death
  21. The Earthquake Virgin
  22. Lambaster of Laughter
  23. The Sweet Cadence of Scheudenfreunden
  24. Matador: the Agent of Destiny
  25. Overfilling
  26. Mobile Piping
  27. Aristotle’s Character Years
  28. The Great Pilgrimage
  29. A Purpose for Your Sins
  30. Errol Flynn
  31. The Better Man
  32. The Addict’s Ladder
  33. The African Club
  34. The Dutch Hair Piece
  35. The Swiss Army Knife
  36. The Scent of Ammonia
  37. At the Mouth of the Amazon
  38. Broken and Renewed
  39. Seizing the Moment
  40. A Recent Past Discovered
  41. Pinned and Threatened by Fate
  42. Twice as Much in Half the Time
  43. The Assassination
  44. The Pledge
  45. Slandering Hamlet
  46. Stealing Time
  47. Hannibal at the Gates
  48. On the Old Contraband Trail





©Wordcarpenter Publishing Company - Copyright (ISBN)