I'm lucky. Joeri, as one sees immediately, is a lot of fun to hang out with. Sometimes hanging out with Joeri takes me to places I might not go to myself, such as a dining palace down the dirt road from the low end of town by the docks, to a place that is more than a simple hole in the wall with a rusty tin roof over it. No, this place has chairs, two blue plastic stools, actually, and four broken wooden chairs, one of which with the legs cropped severely is placed outside on the narrow sidewalk and is reserved for the fat shirtless forty year old cafe owners' son who is kind of retarded and sits drooling on his chest outside and we shouldn't talk to him because he's 'unpredictable.' Back inside, the dining room table has a plastic tablecloth cover dotted atop with assorted plastic margarine tubs filled with pickled onions in water and bug-speckled hot sauce for our dining pleasure. Somehow, in a city of half a million people, Joeri found this place to dine at, and it only costs three soles for a dinner of chicken foot soup, entree of rice clumps, roasted cassava chunks, spaghetti clunks, and potato chunkettes, all this with chewy grilled bush meat balls, washed down with a carafe of semicoloured jungle juice. I will say this: "Yum. Yum."
|Joeri is dressed to kill as we head out for alligator dinner.|
|Joeri stops to talk to a local about restaurants|
I give Joeri credit: The man is not shy. He talks to people who would know about a restaurant like the one we are off to for gators.
|And being fastidious about both dining and attire, he double checks.|
Joeri is pretty happy even when he tells me about the Satanic Oil Companies that are causing chem. trails. He would be angry about the injustice of it all, but he kind of forgets that part as I point out a poster hanging on a wall inside a house with a window ajar just a crack that allows me to spot some nifty looking leftard art work. We walk back a few paces and twist our necks to peer into the crack to get a better look; and when I take a flash photo the home owner springs into action and opens the door and demands to know what's going on, which gives Joeri a chance to spring too, right into the man's home where the three of us stand around and start talking about social justice and I look at pictures and nod and smile while Joeri gets the man's phone number and email address to further carry on the revolution. The jittery home owner eventually ushers us from his very stylish home with modernist posters done quite tastefully, his carved wooded chairs arranged pleasantly around a superiour sound system on polished earth tone floor tiles, crystal glasses gleaming in a sparkling liquor cabinet just this side of the pastel coloured room divider that opens through a clever archway to a designer kitchen beyond.
|Jungle, Not Oil, for the People|
It's not like we got the bum's rush or something, it's that we have a date with a gator. That's why we found ourselves abruptly on the walk in the dust with dogs.
|The Rocket Propelled Spear of the Amazonian Struggle against The Hated Oil Companies|
The guy with the nicely framed posters in parchment tone paper of a graphic "Stencilled Dignified Amazon Warrior in Profile Holding a Rocket Propelled Spear of Aboriginal Resistance Against Yanqui Imperialism and Oil Company Greed" over a huge red and dripping blood-like blob was very likely envious of our up-and-coming contact with authenticity at the restaurant to eat us some gator. But fuck him, he's not invited. I say, 'Let him eat steak!'
|Our Destination and Our Destiny|
As Joeri and I make our way down the last wooden plank that leads from the edge of the concrete sidewalk to the dust hole that is the street and then up a pile of broken bricks to the restaurant I am atremble, my quivering knees shaking from pain, the excitement too much for my weak condition in this state of dry mouthed gourmet anticipation. I pause for breath, taking in a deep gulp of baking asphalt burning at the next corner on an iron brazier as sweating men huddle around waiting to place their pieces in pots over the blazing open fire to melt.
OK, so he fell over sideways and hurt his head a lot when he connected with some hard stuff laying buried in the dust. He got up and went bleeding to the shady side of the street to vomit, proving he still had some sense about him. Life goes on. Except for our gator, lying dead on the grill.
|Too Exclusive for Diners' Club Cards |
Gawd, I am such a guy for a meal sometimes! When I saw again the sign over the door of our restaurant, big block numbers, "941," painted on a piece of wood nailed to the open door vent, well, my heart leapt up like a lonely Romantic poet wandering. Dinner time.
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