12 November 1947 / Bolivia

Of the thirty burros that began the journey with me, only three remain. I suppose it’s time to admit there was no intentional misdirection by the locals who gave the ominous name to the path I chose. “El Sendero de Sangre Burro,” or “The Path of Burro Blood” has turned out to be a fairly precise description. And I take ownership of my mistake. But when one is on the hunt for legendary treasure, one is constantly dealing with deceptors, misinformers, and hoodwinkers. You must make quick decisions as to whether someone speaks the truth and act accordingly. In my experience, truth is rare.

Point of fact, in the very village where I secured the burros for my expedition, a child looked me square in the eye and told me he knew the lyrics to all the songs from The Gay Divorcee. Here, I immediately saw the set-up to the latest variation of the classic shell game. A street urchin approaches with the offer to perform some Broadway show tunes, and of course, who wouldn’t be eager to listen? But as he sings and shuffles, you’re distracted, and his unseen gang steals vital organs through the incisions they carved into your back. I’ve seen it a hundred times. So when this child launched into his dusty scrub-brush version of “Night and Day,” without hesitation I threw him to the ground with a powerful shove to the face. Then I spun on my heels and shouted Let that be a lesson to you!! to his friends waiting in the wings. Harsh? Maybe. But last I checked, I still have most--if not all--of my vital organs.

Incidentally, it seems that thirty burros was too high an estimate. I see now two would’ve sufficed nicely. Not only is this apparent to me, but to the three burros that remain. Their obvious jockeying for position, each trying to outperform the others for my affection, pleases me greatly. Though I fear its inevitable end. One will begin to feel left out, and in its despair, see only one option to wrestle the spotlight from the other two: suicide--the ultimate attention grabber.

(note: see the next entry from Bolivia here.)