20 September 1947 / Jalapa, Mexico

Late last night, I won a pepper-eating contest, though to be honest, I hadn’t realized I was taking part in a competition until I was awarded a chicken and everyone around me cheered.

The people here actually do a lot of cheering and whooping and yelling. There’s seemingly no occasion to which hooting and howling isn’t appropriate. Case in point, at the funeral procession this afternoon for one of the deceased pepper-eating competitors, the entire town showed up to cheer and throw garbage at the casket.

I watched them from the second story window of my rented room as they hurled trash and junk and spit at the casket with so much enthusiasm it was all I could do not to join in. We spend our entire lives pent in by the rules of civilization, it’s rare when an opportunity arises that allows us to satiate one of man’s most primal desires: to litter.

Within seconds of witnessing the event, I saw my chance and was launching any garbage I could put my hands on out the window and onto the procession below. And to my litter wild eyes, everything in this ramshackle apartment was fair game.

The lamps went first, then the chairs, the table next as I laughed and hollered and worked up a sweat not seen since the pepper eating contest the night before. The people below cheered with the voracity of those running for their lives. But I had no time to see my creation as I was a one man assembly line of littering. Heave, lift, launch, return, heave, lift, launch, return. Finally, there was nothing left but my mattress, which for some reason, I lit on fire before sling-shotting it out my window.

When I finally took my bow, it appeared the procession had moved on, though strangely, without the casket.

The wonders of this world’s cultural differences never cease to fascinate me, yet I’m often baffled by the similarities I see. I thought only Baltimorians threw garbage on their deceased loved ones.

On a separate note, in a few days I’ll be heading back to South America to continue my search for the Golden Brain. I’m going to budget some time tomorrow to make a list of the items I think I’ll need so I avoid that “last-minute packing” scenario that leads to some bad decisions. Bringing that iron bust of Andrew Jackson down here was absolutely not worth the effort, I’ll finally admit privately. In fact, I’m going to throw it at that casket.