We’d landed at Quito, Ecuador on the upper Amazon River. I was alone, to meet the rest of the tour group at a spot downstream next to a tribal village that we’d later visit, although I had personal reasons not to “gawk” at others, so didn’t plan to “do” that visit. I got into the small canoe, clutching my suitcase, which contained all my identification and money, hoping the two men with the boat wouldn’t sell me to headhunters.
Nine o’clock at night and in this area, night is really dark. As they rowed, and I prayed, the only signs of life were periodic tiny white lights signifying that a group of people lived somewhere over there on a riverbank. Was I willing to jump into the white-capped black water and swim to safety if I felt endangered? I knew the answer in my cowardly heart was “no.” So I sat as tall as I could, obviously not relaxed.
By the time we reached my destination, I was past being tired and afraid; I just wanted a clean bed. But, first, I was hungry.
In my bedraggled condition (I do that well!) I went into the tiny restaurant for a bite to eat—by now midnight. I looked like the knothole was still on me—and sitting elegantly in the tiny dining room were two French women who did not acknowledge my tentative smile.
The next morning, we all gathered to go out toward the peak experience of the trip—a flight over the Nazca Lines, Peru’s claim to fame. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t eat breakfast before any kind of travel on any kind of moving vehicle. I ignored common sense, and I was feeling great, so ate a hearty breakfast. (Keep that in mind.) When I went out to the three-passenger plane, I got to sit next to the pilot. My quick feeling of delight faded when the two modish French women boarded, well-dressed, of course, and took two seats behind me.
We were off!
The pilot was fine, but he became so
enthusiastic that he wanted us to see all the rock-outlined animals of Nazca. He swooped this way, then that way, pointing out the rock-drawn figures of monkeys, deer, and other animals native to the area. Each time required a “swoop.” Despite my best efforts, I lost my breakfast. The pilot was quick to
have a bag ready, but all I could think about were the classy French women who now made no secret of their displeasure at my personal disgrace.
When I staggered out of the plane, one of the fellows in the group tried to make me feel better. He claimed that his pilot had been rough, too. I threw my pilot under the wheels in a way by nodding as though he deserved the blame. But it was done, and breakfast was over.
We went on to enjoy our next experience in this pretty South American country. Just don’t eat breakfast before flying over the famous Lines. It had been my pleasure the night before the flight to have met the woman who wrote a definitive book about the Nazca Lines, a copy of which she graciously signed for me. It is one of my treasures.