Sunday, January 16, 2011


It seems a law of nature and I’ve seen it happen all over South America and Asia and Africa. As soon as a ship stops or slows down, from everywhere come sampans or canoes to swarm around the ship and call out to whoever’s on deck.

In Asia local Mama-Sans come quietly with boats laden with human flesh and are helped on board as matter-of-fact as would pilots and port health officials. In the Philippines we’re offered coral and rubies tucked in Kleenex tissues, their values certified only by the solemn oaths of the merchants. Many an apprentice pay a few hundred dollars for shards of tainted glass. On the Amazon it’s mostly fruit, but many boats come along side simply because the locals are tourists too and stare at us as if we’re a traveling carnival show.

            “He’s got a monkey!” I shout pointing at one of the boats.
            “That’s not a monkey, that’s a Lazy Guy,” says Draga next to me and motions them to come near. Indeed, it’s a Lazy Guy, as this creature is known as in Dutch and apparently also in Serbian; sloth in English.

The boy shows off his pet, points at some parrots sitting on the rim of a bucket. I’m not sure if they are trying to sell these animals, but somebody ought to tell them that animals are no longer allowed on board, as per international maritime law.

For a brief moment our differing worlds meet in our smiles. Then they cast off and we diverge.

Canoes on the Amazon
Amazon boy showing off pet sloth
Divergin worlds

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