In an era when Brooklyn dentists go on Safari, I suppose that even our mad expedition was doomed to be tainted with training wheels. I lost my coffee buzz at the same moment that I watched a bright glint arc its way over our heads through my binoculars. The big high tech daddy in the sky was always just a few steps behind to catch his little man in case he happened to run the risk of scraping up against reality.
There were dangers, and plenty of them, chiefly the heat and the monsters the humidity bred.Provided that this manuscript made its way across the web and the handful of copies we were able to get into print weren’t destroyed I’m sure that readers are pretty fed up with my incessant bitching about the heat.
If it helps, I’m doing it on purpose.The thick sticky air is a constant preoccupation. A preoccupation as constant as hum of every kind of arthropod deploying billions of years of evolutionary strategy to wage war on my homeostasis.
You really shouldn’t come here if accidental death by exotic critter or heat exhaustion isn’t your thing. It really is pervasive. I sit down to write and can think of no other thing to describe. Though I prefer a pen and paper I’ve switched to a rather bulky waterproof laptop due to sweat and damp making it impossible to maintain the integrity of my notebooks.
I suppose that what I’m getting at is yes there were dangers here but really they were theme park dangers. You can get decapitated on roller coasters. Here in the jungle there was a chance that you’d get shot by nickelante revolutionaries or mauled by a jaguar but the chances of that were about as high as a loose bolt on Thunder Mountain. That’s the impression I had.
Night Vision, air conditioned tents, anda small platoon armed with automatic rifles didn’t bode well for feelings of vulnerability. As I’ve mused before there are plenty of reasons to be worried even despite this but I still got this boxed in feeling. I mean at the moment I could pull up a porno on this little 13 inch screen. My phone talked to satellites in geosynchronous orbit.
Space might hold some fascination some thrill of the unknown but I know for a fact, I feel it in my bones, that the wonder of Magellan…or even Patton is no longer possible.
I’m happy to inform you that this dreary notion was soon to be dispelled. Brazil is a volatile place and the construction of the Belo Monte dam far to the north sent shock waves from the city of Altamira throughout the basin, even as far as Mato Grosso.
“What is the number one problem in the Amazon?” Lobo quired as he fell into step beside me.
“Bugs that crawl up your pecker?”
Lobo smiled wryly. “Expand your scope.”
“That’s a surprising answer for a military man.”
“I’m a martial scarecrow,” I laughed. “Sure, I have rank and file but really I’m what the limeys call a boffin.”
“I’m aware of the term. But now that you know that I am speaking from a soldier’s view what is the biggest problem in the Amazon? I will give a hint: deforestation is but a symptom.”
“Close, but again that is merely a symptom.”
“Well, deforestation can be a crime, corruption is basically another term for crime, so law enforcement.”
“So close, in fact close enough to where I’ll take it. But, I have to expand it…you see the problem is very simple…power projection.”
I turned my head and raised an eyebrow.
Lobo pointed up.
“You see the canopy? Does that lend itself to air support?”
I shook my head.
“Did you see the savanna, the wetland, this dry forest? How easily do you think that adequate force can be projected on the ground?”
“Yes! What we do here now…” he said sweeping his hand over the expedition trailing in front and behind. “…is only possible because of your American money…”
“Ah, that you may…but seeing is not realizing…there is other money besides American money and there are people who do not in the slightest motivated by that impulse…”
“You are talking about social unrest?”
“That and much much more…those are the things…not just these trees, this mud, this river…that make projecting the power to enforce what we call civilization.”
“I’m Worried…this is really complicated…this project…the area…the time…we are a tangle of knots…”
He fell silent.
We strode on in a thick air of contemplative apprehension.
There it was. The dissolution of my modern ennui. The wild was still wild. I gazed at the canopy whose shade was a shield for anarchy.
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