Every time I scanned my flight schedule for the whole of my South American trip there was always a glitch of energy, a paling of ink at the Aero Condor flight we were scheduled to take from Lima to Iquitos. I didn’t pay it too much attention as the perception was minor and I boarded the flight with the rest of the passengers. This was the first flight on which my traveling companion and I appeared to be the only non-local tourists. The eight boxes of roosters crowing in the airport, stacked next to a passenger checking in at the next counter might as well have been on our flight. The man with the roosters fit perfectly with the mix piling into the plane. Iquitos is a border town, which means it's a the uneasy edge between Indian country and white civilization and the passengers reflected the rough mix of adventurers, prospectors, and visitors deigning to see the rowdier elements of their families. We took off in the plane that most airlines would have grounded, or at least spent a little to tuck in the stuffing and cover the scrapes of wear with a little paint. I half-dozed as I’d been up since four a.m. for enough time to check out of the hotel in Miraflores and get across the coughing city of Lima to the airport and check in for the 6:45AM flight. But couldn’t sleep. I wanted to see the Amazon and have anticipated this journey all of my life, since the third or fourth grade when I obsessed over the Amazon and did every assigned report on Amazonian animals. Even my recently deceased diva pet angel fish who grew from fingernail size to the size of a large hand in my ten-gallon aquarium was native to the Amazon. She was smart, perceptive (not always the same thing) and moody. She knew what carrying bags to the living room to pack meant. And she would sulk and not respond to me until I returned from my trip. Once a month she'd get moody and cranky, bump the glass walls of her home with fury. Usually the next day there'd be a white thread of eggs to show for it. She'd protect them until she ate them.
I wonder what captures each of us, for instance, how someone from Belgium will fixate on a tribe thousands of miles away, even while in diapers, and make it their life study, or another will work untiringly to understand a few years in history of a particular dynasty in Egypt, though they grew up in a small-town in Michigan. Our sources of information are often faulty or romanticized. Most education, I venture, is propaganda, culled from texts written by so-called conquerors or other translators of human events with narrow points of view that are usually both linear and hierarchical. (The linear and hierarchical are inherently constructed to topple.) Most knowing isn’t rote information, and most doesn’t necessarily come over literal wires of communication. Of course we need the literal as a time map in this world, and for structure, but the rest of it has been discounted. Sort of like the trinity held sacred in most Christian religions doesn't include a female component. How are you going to create anything? Doesn't work that way here. Just look at the natural world, just use common sense.
At a young age I was intrigued with the Amazon that flowed through the most immense garden in the world. There lived the world’s largest snakes, various kinds of monkeys, caiman who were related to alligators, and uncountable birds and insects. I knew that the area was populated mostly by native people as was Oklahoma (according to my point of view.). I didn’t know then that hunting Indians was still a sport there, or that when I would eventually make my way there, and that it would be over forty years later. The wise knowing part of myself that surfaced now and then like a caiman lurking along the edge of the waters, believed in the possibility of being able to get to the Amazon, though it was most likely an impossibility because I was barely coming up through the cracks in a breaking home. I lived in chaos. I was the oldest of four, and female and the pressure was already unbearable. I found refuge in the imagining of such a place as the Amazon. Everything I loved was contained there. Maybe this was when I first started trading jeans and boy’s shirts for dresses. You couldn’t walk around the Amazon like one of the girls whose only goal for their lives was to be a bride. It would never work.
It was a relief to ascend into the sky and be able to see the sky. Lima had no sky, only a low level belching atmosphere, a constant shade of ashy gray. Soon, the staggering vista of mountains turned to green, lush vistas. The cart made it around with Coke and Inca Kola, nd then the plane jerked , a noticeable strange lurch and we began descending. Something felt off. We banked then landed at a small airfield in a place called P_______, not Iquitos. Bright squares of laundry were laid out on the runway to dry. We touched down. We discerned through limited understanding of Spanish and body language that we had to disembark and wait until a mechanic was flown in to fix the engine.
I am still caught or transfixed by a couple and their daughter, passengers on that downed plane. They have become a metaphor of memory for me. I still see them there as we waited in that in that humid bare waiting room for a mechanic and problem that could take a few hours to fix or a day or even two--there was nothing we could do....so we resigned ourselves to it. The husband/father was tall, gawky and rough, the same kind of non-Indian who shows up in the farthest reaches of Indian country because they are on the run, are a criminal or have had some kind of scuffle with family or the law. (People wind up far from home for many reasons. We had people like him teaching at Indian school.) He could have been a missionary's child sent from Oklahoma.
TO BE CONTINUED
Nothing like a summer rainy night in Honolulu. The chukking of a gecko. Earlier today I got to race in my first regatta with Hui Nalu Canoe Club, out in the beautiful waters of Nanakuli. We won in the senior masters women's division. What a high--
I was never that athletic as a child though I loved moving to music. Eventually my body connected with my head....It's all about rhythm. In a canoe race you match the rhythm of the boat moving through water, lean into it, go with it. Sort of like performing music.