Tag Archives: river travel

My Impending Death

Bridge

Bridge near Middleton, RI

According to a Facebook quiz I succumbed to, I have eighteen years and two months to live. That means my final journey will occur sometime during February 2033. I’ll be 89. Mark your calendars.

I would have preferred a spring or summer death, because it would be nice to have an outside going away party. Maybe my friend Dave Bouldin will write another leaving song like he did when I sold my house and moved to Mexico.

I plan to be cremated so there won’t be a shriveled up body to view, thank god. I’v e asked my daughter, Alice, to have a life-size cardboard effigy of me made (she could pick the photo) for folks to dance with at my wakeimage. She laughed and said she would, but it would still be sad.

Eighty-nine is longer than I expected to live given my rowdy

Ollantaytambo. Peru

Ollantaytambo. Peru

behaviour. I remember being high on LSD once at a party in San Francisco. I was talking with a friend by the stove when someone used the gas burner to light a joint. Along with the the joint, the accordion sleeve of my blouse also burst into flames. I thought it was pretty. I don’t remember who put th

Not the Nile but close enough.,

Not the Nile but close enough.,

e fire out.

That was back when you could get a decent bag of Mexican pot for a dime (ten dollars). However, during my stand-up comedy years I chose red wine over the wildly popular cocaine as my drug of choice, and it remains so. Even though most days I exceed the prescribed daily limit, my liver has hung in there, and according to recent medical trends, red wine may even be helpful to my heart. If you hang there long enough medical science will come around to your side. .

Now that I have a more or less specific time of my passing I feel compelled to make a few plans for the future. The first thing I need is a home. Being homeless the last seven years has been fun, but now I want to find a small cottage by water, or (second choice) in the mountains, where I can move the stuff that hasn’t rotted out of storage.

At the top of my adventure list is a kayak trip to explore parts of the Mississippi River beginning at its headwaters in Lake Itasca, MN. Further south I see myself docking at small blues bars along the way, listening to music, and maybe even singing a rendition of You Can Leave Your Hat On. After that, I want to spend a few days camping, hiking and horse riding among the hoo-doos (odd-shaped pillars of rock) and forests in Bryce Canyon, Utah.

The final ‘must see’ river on my list is the Nile. It’s a busy waterway. The section from Luxor to Aswan alone is said to have 200 – 300 ships, with ratings from 0-5 cruising from any given time. The higher the score the ritzier and more international the passengers become. I’ll be on a 2 or 3 with the working class Egyptians, eating big plates of fava beans, and eggplant spiced with jute leaves, coriander, garlic and onions.

Eighteen years seem like a long time, but if they go as fast as the last 70 I’ve no time to waste.

Here's to me in Aquas Calientes

Here’s to me in Aquas Calientes

The slow boat to Iquitos. Rumors. Blah.

The rumors abound: watch your stuff every minute or you will be robbed, the mosquitos are voracious and will eat you alive, the food gross, the noise deafening. Ah.

The minute the cab dropped  me off at the port in Leticia, Alex, a young man offered to carry my heavy roll-along bag across the island to the boats. For about a dollar and a bottle of water, he not only carried the bag, he found me a boat. Along the short walk, he asked a thousand questions about the US. He was especially interested in Las Vegas. Young men used-back in the day- to be interested in Hollywood.

I was safely, for if you are to believe the rumors again, the boats are unsafe, the drivers reckless. Personally,  I believe people who make their lives on the sea are some of the must cautious, reverential folks on the planet. So, I arrived on the muddy bank of the Amazon in Peru. A short mototaxi to the customs office, and I was legal for the next 90 days.

Now I had several hours to kill before boarding the boat. Lunch with locals on a picnic table in front of a hardware store, carried there in styrofoam coolers by moto taxi. It was delicious chicken, beans, rice, and totally fresh salsa. She allowed me to pick out the piece of chicken I wanted!

After lunch I still had a few hours. I stopped at a restaurant that was obviously closed, but the owner saw me and welcomed me to come in. I told him I had a few hours, he offered me the hammock over looking the marsh and river. “Se puede descansar en la hamaca. ” I ordered a cold beer and took him up on the offer. I napped, feeling safe and content.

I stood on a steep bank looking at two boats. The Gran Diego and the Maria Fernandez.  Porters raced to and fro, up and down the steep hill laden with enormous burdens. These young men grow old fast.

I started downhill to the MF because it was the closest. My roll- on wanted to roll away, and my heavy backpack pushed me forward. A man, Manolo, came along beside me, took the former, and carried it to the top deck(actually next to top because the top was used by the crew). He then hung my hammock, shook my hand and went to his,  I assume.

Later that day, he came to visit me, but the minute he sat down on the bench at the end of my hammock and gave me a little wave, a woman traveling with her son sat beside him. She talked and talked. Finally he left. My chance of the Maria Fernandez becoming a love boat dashed before departure.

I still hadn’t bought a ticket. I asked a guy in a hammock where and when that happened. “Mas tarde.” Lol.

More people boarded. Finally, Rene, a Canadian/Italian man, hung his hammock next to m

The Gran Diego

The Gran Diego

Ruby con sansia

Ruby con sansia

My foot among hammocks

My foot among hammocks

Rene eating gruel

Rene eating gruel

Peruvian ferry across the river to Santa Rosa

Peruvian ferry across the river to Santa Rosa

View from hammock in Santa Rosa

View from hammock in Santa Rosa

The closed restaurant photo from hammock

The closed restaurant photo from hammock

image

El Gran Diego

El Gran Diego

ine. We were the only passengers not from Colombia or Peru.