A guest post by Jeff Croy
The 1st day I read The Iquitos Times. I thought, “How lovely that they have a paper for gringos!” and if I stay here long enough I might end up contributing to it. So then I met “Mad” Mick. As soon as I told him I liked the paper (and that I´m a writer), he pleaded me to write for it. That was pretty much the extent of his madness. I told him the begging is my job! Mick then introduced me to Bill Grimes. Another major player or famous figure. Or “Lieutenant-In-Chief to The Mayor!” Just as approachable, modest, humble, helpful and hospitable nonetheless. So I make it a habit or ritual, as so many other travellers do, to indulge myself in good food, scenery and company down at Dawn On The Amazon.
The 2nd day I tried Ayahuasca. I´ve heard of it´s reputation and I had it in the back of my mind, but I didn´t know I would do it so soon. You meet someone and one thing leads to another. It was definitely an alternative, powerful, beneficial experience that everyone passing through should experience at least once.
A few days into my arrival, I had the honor of meeting Gerson Pizango. I´ve read about him being voted as one of the top global guides. And there he was, standing over me, taking my order. I didn´t know it was him until it came up after. I already had liked him because he spoke English and had a shining personality. But when he identified himself and I recognized his face, I was spellbound.
Then he told me it was his son´s Birthday, and if I´d like to come. I was then swifted away on his moto. It was the first time I rode one. And even though I just met him and wasn´t wearing a helmet, I felt protected and guided. Everyone gawked and gazed, I felt privileged.
At his residence I met his wife and child. He slept off his whole 3rd bday. I was the only one invited, yet we had only just met hours ago. Fate put me in the right place at the right time. Blessed I was to be a part of- however basic or uneventful it was. It meant something to me.
No doubt he lives in poverty. Not necessarily because he wants to, he chooses to. It´s something admirable, remarkable and unique. Never have I met someone like this before. Nonetheless he appears internally happy and rich. This is something I envy and crave for myself.
Where I come from I was privileged, I had everything. Yet I was depressed. Maybe that´s why people come here, or elsewhere. Not just to explore a different place, to explore themselves. You come to appreciate things more, while becoming a better person.
Of course he could improve his home and acquire more elegant materials and parishables. He´s achieved a profitable, successful establishment. But his set and distribution of values are different. With strict discipline, determination and pride, he invests it all into his tribal communities. Probably this is the most unselfish, genuinely honest, caring, generous person you can meet. And truly it was a pleasure to meet him. And to say he is my friend. Then I get bitter- wondering and wishing why there aren´t more Gerson Pizangos out there.
I´ve not journied with Gerson thus far. From what I´ve seen and heard though leads me and compells me to believe and write. I very much look forward to going out and spending time with reputably the best guide on the Amazon. My only concern is that after this, with his name spreading and skyrocketing, he may be in so much demand that he´ll be hard to get ahold of.
Of course I´ve heard about Alberto Pizango. The Peruvian jungle leader. I had a hunch that they were related… I was right. Although Gerson hasn´t seen him since he was a child.
Being the movie buff I am, I asked him if he saw The New World. He didn´t, nor did he know about Q´orianka Kilcher. When I showed him the connection he got really excited. As well as being a famous actress, with aboriginal origins on her father´s side from Madre De Dios, Peru, she´s an activist and #1 supporter of Alberto Pizango.
I said the network and possibilities are there for him. He should get in touch with Alberto, and this woman can use her status and resources. If not, at least she can have the best jungle experience with her idol´s relative.
Then maybe I can get a girlfriend. (Joke!) But I´d get closer to my dream of being a filmmaker realized; producing my 1st picture in Peru.
One day I might end up like Mick or Bill. Or Terrence Malick or Werner Herzog.
Funny in Iquitos nearly no one knows Aguirre or Fitzcarraldo. Quite possibly among the best films ever made. They were made right here!
So if anyone is out there reading this, you´re free to drop me a line, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for reading. Look for more from me next month.
Guest post by Jeff Croy
It seems obvious but it should be stated that the impressions and opinions expressed by any of my guest authors do not necessarily reflect the impressions and opinions of Bill Grimes, the owner of the Captain’s Blog!