Across the Andes: A Tale of Wandering Days Among the Mountains of Bolivia and the Jungles of the Upper Amazon (IIlustr by Charles Johnson Post

Across the Andes: A Tale of Wandering Days Among the Mountains of Bolivia and the Jungles of the…

byCharles Johnson Post

Kobo ebook | April 2, 2015

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It was in Panama—the old Panama—and in front of the faded and blistered hotel that I met him again. A bare-footed, soft-voiced mozo had announced that a person, a somebody, was awaiting me below. Down in the broken-tiled lobby a soured, saffron clerk pointed scornfully to the outside. Silhouetted against the hot shimmer that boiled up from the street was a jaunty figure in a native, flapping muslin jacket, native rope-soled shoes, and dungaree breeches, carefully rolling a cigarette from a little bag of army Durham. It turned and, from beneath the frayed brim of a native hat, there beamed upon me the genial assurance of Bert, one time of the Fifth Army Corps, Santiago de Cuba, and occasionally of New York; and within my heart I rejoiced. Without, I made a signal that secured a bottle of green, bilious, luke-warm native beer and settled myself placidly for entertainment.

A panicky quarantine stretched up and down some few thousand miles of the West Coast that left the steamer schedules a straggling chaos. For fifteen dull, broiling days I had swapped hopes and rumors with the polyglot steamship clerk or hung idly over the balcony of the Hotel Marina watching the buzzards hopping about the mud flats or grouped hopefully under the quarter of a slimy smack. Once I had inspected the Colombian navy that happened to be lying off the Boca and observed a bran-new pair of white flannels go to their ruin as a drunken Scotch engineer teetered down an iron ladder with a lidless coal-oil lamp waving in discursive gestures; once I had met a mild, dull, person who had just come up Magdalena River way with a chunk of gold that he assured me—without detail—had been hacked off by a machete, but here his feeble imagination flickered out and he wrapped the rest in a poorly wrought mystery until finally he fluttered over to Colon for the next steamer of innocent possibilities.

With these the respectable amusements were exhausted and I therefore rejoiced as I confronted that cheerful, raconteuring adventurer under the battered Panama. A ship’s purser, a drummer of smoked hams, a Coney Island barker, a soldier, a drifter, and always a teller of tales, he had lain in the trenches on Misery Hill before Santiago in support of Capron’s Battery with a gaunt group around him as he wove the drifting thread of adventure from the Bowery to the Barbary Coast in a series of robust anecdotes. And they bore the earmarks of truth.

Now, in the genial silhouette framed against the tropic glare, I realized that whatever days of waiting might be in store they would no longer be dull. A true rumor had put him in a lone commercial venture somewhere down these coasts and here at my elbow was to be placed all the shift and coil of petty adventure, whimsical romance, and the ultimate results of two years of adroit piracy in and out of the Spanish Main that had ended, as I observed, in dungaree breeches, rope-soled alpargatas, and a battered Panama hat.

Therefore through the ministrations of an occasional bottle of the native bilious beer and other transactions that shall remain private, the days sped themselves swiftly and unheeded guided by the adept hand of Romance. Again, as in the trenches, I viewed the world under Asmodean influences, but what I heard has no place in these pages; it is worth an endeavor all its own. Then, one morning, the news spread that at last the Mapocho lay at the Boca and the hour of departure for the first stage to the interior of South America was at hand; the night before was the last I saw of my genial friend. In the morning he did not appear, and it was strange, for I had expected to do the proper thing, as I saw it, realizing that dungarees and alpargatas are poor armor and that our consulates offer but a desperate and prickly hospitality.

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Title:Across the Andes: A Tale of Wandering Days Among the Mountains of Bolivia and the Jungles of the…Format:Kobo ebookPublished:April 2, 2015Publisher:NEW YORK OUTING PUBLISHING COMPANYLanguage:English

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