Dawn on the Amazon is in Pevas, the oldest Peruvian Jesuit
settlement on the Amazon River. We are visiting the art studio and
gallery of our friend Francisco Grippa. Regrettably he is traveling but
his people have graciously invited us to tour his studio and gallery and
to enjoy the view from the observation tower.
Touring his studio we see he has
been working on a wall size painting
of giant hummingbirds. It does not
take much to remind me of the first
time I met Fancisco years ago
coming back from a two week
peacock bass fishing trip. My friend
and motorista, Edson, is with me
today, and was with me that first
day six years ago. My friend, Mark,
was also with us that day. After two
Francisco Grippa and hummingbird painting
showed us the painting he was working on at the time, a smaller
version of hummingbirds, whose wings were beating so fast they were
represented by brilliant blurred lines of layered, colorful, pink and violet

Like all great conversationalist he asked about us and was interested
in our jungle stories. He laughed with us as we told him of the
monkeys stealing our spatula, and how we discovered our underwear
and a red bandana in the top of a tall tree. We told about the night we
were under our mosquito nets and the noisy, night monkeys clamored
on board checking our packs and everything they could touch, and how
cute they were chirping, clicking, and squeaking. How the next night we
were startled awake by a snapping sound followed immediately by a
piercing scream, and something big splashing in the water right beside
the boat, and then total silence, rare in the rainforest nights. We were
pretty sure a big, black caiman killed one of our new friends as they
were on the way to visit us again. And how after that we did not
dangle our hands or feet over the side of the boat.  He told us that his
inspiration for nearly all of his paintings of the last decade were
directly from the rainforest and its inhabitants and showed us his
paintings and explained what he saw and was thinking when he
painted them. He called his style “Grippismo.”

We enjoyed interesting conversation, and he determined that we must
spend the night in his guest bed room. I must confess that I showed
the bad manners to ask how much it would cost, he lives in a mansion,
by Amazon rainforest standards, and in fact by most standards. When
he said it was nothing, we would be his guests, I muttered to Mark
something like, “Somehow I will believe that when I see it.” But we
were in fact his guests and I am even more embarrassed now at some
trouble we caused in Pevas.

We went out that evening to find some food. Edson stayed on the boat
to guard our gear, and we were to bring food back to him. We found a
restaurant where they cooked chickens on a big rotisserie over
charcoal, and, even though Mark’s and my Spanish was not very good,
we thought we ordered two meals to eat and a whole chicken to go. My
plan was that Edson could have part of it for supper and we would all
share the rest on the long trip back to Iquitos.

Our meal was delicious, but when it was over I could not seem to make
the man understand that we wanted our chicken to go. He said
something about “…mas tardy…pollo…” which we partially understood
and we said something like, “no, no,…pollo  ahora…” with many
elaborate hand gestures, that he partially understood, and all the while
people were coming in getting chickens and leaving. An hour later I
almost got us in trouble. There were only two chickens left in the pan.

I had it in my head we could solve this communication problem by
paying some extra money and reaching in and taking one of the
chickens before they were all gone. Fortunately, who should walk in to
claim his chicken but our host Mr. Grippa. When we explained our
difficulty, Francisco told us the owner takes orders in advance and only
cooks the number of chickens that have been pre-ordered, then he
talked with the owner. The owner had understood us, and my
impatience and possible intent, and was a little afraid. The other
chicken had been ordered by the Captain of the Army check point, the
man who will or will not give us permission to go on to Iquitos, or to
go on to jail.

Sometimes I am not very smart. This was one of those times. By now
we had waited two hours, my friend Edson had not eaten much all day
and not eaten well in a couple of days, and I explained that to
Francisco. He suggested we get him a plate of rice, beans, and yucca
at a street vendor near the river. Not being real smart, I said no, my
motorista eats what I eat, we need that chicken for tomorrow’s river
journey, I have waited two hours, and that chicken is mine.

That is when the Captain came in to pick up his chicken. I am not sure
what Francisco said to the Captain in Spanish, but he painted him a
picture--The gringo is crazy and we had better humor him or he will get
into more trouble than he can imagine, and then you will have all that
paper work and red tape. All I know is when he had finished speaking,
Mark and I walked out with the chicken, the owner said he could have
another chicken cooked at 10 p.m., and the Captain said he would
come back then to eat.

Francisco Grippa
A cruise to Pevas with Dawn on the Amazon to see Francisco Grippa's
studio and his work is Pure Grippismo.

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Visiting Francisco Grippa in Pevas
fishing from Dawn on the Amazon I

Francisco Grippa

Edson with Francisco Grippa hummingbird painting
Edson with hummingbird painting
weeks in the jungle, we were a
little rough looking and I imagine
did not smell the very best, but
Francisco was a gracious and
charming host. The cold beer we
drank that day symbolized our
transition back to civilization, and
though the one I am drinking now
is equally cold, I suspect I will not
remember it six years from
now.Francisco gave us the tour, and
Francisco Grippa with hummingbird painting