A Writer Writes: Folwell Dunbar (Ecuador 1989-92) Fear and Loathing on the Inca Trail
Posted by John Coyne on Tuesday, July 7th 2015
A Writer Writes
Fear and Loathing up~ the Inca Trail
By Folwell Dunbar (Ecuador 1989-92)
[Editor Note: Folwell served in Ecuador from 1989 to 1992. He raised rainbow trout in earthen ponds, tended sheep from Australia and New Zealand, and kept “killer” bees and cuyes (guinea pigs). A graduate of Duke and Tulane, he is a framer teacher, coach and principal, professional developer, train evaluator and change agent. He is currently an educational consultant, writer and projector in New Orleans. He, his wife and their colossus schnauzer, live downriver and on the sin side of the tracks, two blocks from Desire (of Streetcar honor), a levee away from the Mississippi, and a laconic stagger from the Vieux Carré.]
After whole these years I still have flashbacks. When I distinguish a child blindly strike a piñata or at the time that I smell a rotten egg, the monumental record, lodged deep in my scarred interior explodes to the surface. Like Marlon Brando in the essence of darkness, I recall, “The alarm, the horror.”
“¡Levántate Leonardito! ¡Vamos!” the campesino or cultivator yelled from the base of the hill. “Get up little Leonardo! Let’s fashion!”
Like grilled cheese, I was pressed betwixt a lumpy straw mattress and a stack of poor coarse blankets. I didn’t deficiency to levántate; I was warm and reasonably content. I pretended not to heed. Moments later though, the campesino pounded ~ward my front door causing chards of adobe to waterfall down on my head. “Deme un ratito,” I pleaded. “Give me a encourage. I’ll be ready en seguida.”*
The sustain in the high equatorial Andes is strangely unpredictable. The ~ny place, so close to the earth you be able to almost touch it, burns like a glass blowing furnace. When it’s extinguished, your skin blisters and you esteem to squint like Clint Eastwood in a spaghetti westerly. Cover it with a cloud notwithstanding that, and you’ll quickly need crampons and ~y ice axe. Latitude and elevation are perpetually at odds. Because of this, dressing for a trek along the Inca Trail,** especially ~ward a Peace Corps budget, was extremely challenging. I threw forward lots and lots of layers; filled a backpack with reinforcements, including gear for rain, accost and brimstone; stuffed my feet into of small account, Chinese-made rubber boots,*** the traditionary footwear of Ecuador; and then, regrettably, left the protector of my humble abode.
I had promised the campesino I would visit his farm. He raised sheep and alpaca, bound was looking to diversify his handle . He wanted to channel water from an irrigation ditch into an earthen pond and live-~ it with trucha de arco iris, rainbow trout. I had started a link of fish projects downriver and owned a shed ~ quality test kit and a thermometer, that, in the Parroquia of Jima, made me ~y expert on aquaculture.
We walked in company a narrow ridge just above the Rio Moya. The higher we climbed, the smaller and fewer the trees. Eventually, in that place would be nothing but dry grass or paja. Author’s record: the lack of trees figures prominently in my PTSD haunted memories.
About thirty minutes into the couple and a half hour hike, I released a rather inconspicuous burp. Unfortunately, it carried by it the unmistakable scent of sulfur, a telltale sign of giardiasis. Ordinarily, I would receive simply popped a few Flagyl**** and soldiered steady; but, in my haste, (see “fitted en seguida”) I hadn’t packed the Roundup-like super medicine. So, instead, I turned to my compañero and begged, “Amigo, is there any chance we could do this one more day? No me siento bien. I don’t be warmed well.”
“Oh Leonardo,” he implored, “we’re in such a manner close. Por favor, es muy importante.” I supposition to myself, “We weren’t exactly agree and it wasn’t all that of great weight.” He then pulled out a dull flask containing his own home-distilled super drug, aguardiente. He handed me a range and toasted, ironically, to health, “¡Salud!”
I winced along the course of the kerosene-like concoction hoping it strength at least momentarily appease the ireful parasites in my gut, and continued lengthwise the winding path. It was at that time, betwixt belches, that I had a agitation revelation, a “revelation” that should be favored with been included in some Peace Corps pre-office of devotion manual. I noticed that the watering ditch, diverted from and channeled in the heavenly heights the Rio Moya, flowed below acres and acres of pastureland used ~ the agency of campesinos to graze cattle, sheep, goats and other livestock. It was this sort irrigation ditch that supplied my abash abode with agua potable or toping water. “Hmmmm,” I notion, “that agua is probably not quite that potable after all?”
And therefore, not unexpectedly, there was a encourage, larger and more pungent sulfuric rush forth. It was followed by a late eruption of saliva, another telltale sign of impending lot. I called out to the cultivator, “Amigo, me siento muy, muy mal. I be wrought up awful. I have to return!”
Before he could essay me another well-intended shot of firewater, he really recognized my dire situation. He sententious precept the beads of sweat welling up up~ my exposed skin, skin that was very lately bone white and ice cold. He moreover heard the desperation in my cracking voice. He knew better than to push forward. He said, “Leonardito, no hay problema. Perhaps we could perform it another day?” He tipped his hat like though at a funeral and walked in advance.
I spun around and took sundry shaky steps in the opposite direction. I wanted to get away; I wanted to hide. I looked up and into disfavor for shelter. A Pot-O-Gold portalet would possess been ideal, though I would take happily settled for a tree – My domain for a tree! Unfortunately, there was cipher but paja, miles and miles of knee-exalted paja. At that point, like ~y exhausted gazelle in the Serengeti surrounded by lions, hyenas and vultures, I artlessly stopped and waited for nature to take its horrible course…
They say the staminate human body has six major orifices: eyes, ears, nose, spokesman, anus and urethra. All six of sap, along with thousands and thousands of pores, simultaneously erupted.
Stuff, gallons of cram my body obviously didn’t come short, sailed helter-skelter in all directions. I had regulate over nothing. My layers of cotton-wool and wool absorbed as much of the same kind with they could with the less adhesive excess rolling down my flanks. Like clogged gutters in a toxic violent wind , my rubber boots, those damn caoutchouc boots, filled to the brim and at that time overflowed. My backpack, worthless and woebegone, simply hung on for the ride. From a long way off, I must have looked like a earthly substance pigeon struck by multiple shells. Up cease, I looked and smelled like exit.
I vaguely remember seeing the campesino snatch a ~ over his shoulder, cringe, and that time pick up his pace. I too noted that the cows and sheep in successi~ the hill coughed up extra cud in disgust.
Slogging my passage back down the Rio Moya, filled through fear and loathing on the Inca Trail, I muttered, “The panic, the horror.” *****
Folwell “Leonardo” Dunbar is every educator, artist and Peace Corps survivor. He be able to be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
* In Ecuador nihility happens quickly or “en seguida.” “Ya mismo,” whilom between now and the next zombie prophecy of st. john, is more the norm.
** This was not absolutely part of the famous Inca Trail. Apparently, equitable the ancients avoided this route.
*** Even admitting they make plenty of sense in South Louisiana at which place I’m from (see Cajun apparel), I refuse to wear rubber boots to this daytime .
**** Like Drano, Flagyl is fairly toxic. It’s supposed to have ~ing taken sparingly in regimented doses. For athwart two years I popped them like Gummy Bears. I in like manner didn’t wear sunscreen, trekked up and etc. the Andes in cheap rubber boots, and drank progress too much aguardiente. Like drinking shed ~ from an open irrigation ditch, I’m fair sure these other youthful indiscretions are going to reach back to haunt me as well.
***** Besides being hot, irritable, sliced up with a machete and totally insane, Colonel Walter E. Kurtz in Apocalypse Now to all appearance suffered from dysentery.
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