Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Down and out in Iquitos and Peru

My new book, Blood and Splendor: Rubber Boom Architecture in Iquitos, Peru, ca. 1863-1929, is running up to the deadline. I must finish this by Dec. 12, 2014 if I am to publish five books in one year, the first being Iquitos, Peru: Almost Close. Will I make it?

I ran out of money in Jan. last year. I carried on writing, suffering badly as I went from my happy home to a hostel where my kitten boys and I could live and work in relative peace without the landlord screaming about cat pee. No money.

I work in Iquitos as a guide to the city's historical architecture. I am the expert in this limited field. I love doing it. But I don't spend as much time as I should being a tour guide. In fact, last Feb. I spent no time at all being a tour guide: I had severe bronchitis, and I laid in bed gasping and nearly drowning for the month that my rent went unpaid. Word came that the boys and I had to find a new place to stay.

I packed up my stuff and the boys and off we went to live deep in the jungle for the next three months. I got a deal in which I could live rent-free and edit my next book, Confessions of an Ayahuasca Skeptic.

Of course, being deep in the jungle with no money meant I had to find a way to eat. Being sick and 40 minutes hike from the nearest village made that difficult. Worse was when I could no longer stand the isolation and the hunger. I got dressed, got my gear, my boys, and as soon as I reached the stairs down to the ground, I passed out and fell eight feet to the ground, landing on my side, my side landing on my machete, resulting in five broken ribs.

I left the boys behind in mid-June and returned to the city, I being by then 60 pounds lighter. I was invited to stay, without the boys, at my friend David's place, to sleep on his living-room floor so I could come in to town to make some money. I stayed with David and his family, and with Adrian and his girlfriend there as well, while Adrian had some kind of massive mental break-down and got the impression that everyone on earth is stupid. He told us the most preposterous lies he could imagine, and he has a fine imagination. He is also a serious drunk. He is also broke, which meant he was forever borrowing money to get more beer. When drunk, he and others close by got loud. I put my head down in the living room and edited my ayahuasca book, with help from Peter Gorman.

I went back and forth to the jungle till I finally could not stand it longer and returned to David's place to edit and publish my third book in Iquitos, A Genealogy of Left Dhimmi Fascism, Vol. I.

Adrian's madness intensified, along with all the other madness one would never suspect of people in a house in the Amazon. I put my head down again and for the next 20 days I wrote -- a novel. I wrote Jockk Brand vs. the Toe Master and the Suicide Kings of Iquitos, Peru.

What I had meant to do was write my book on historical architecture in Iquitos. I'm finishing that now. I am penniless, living on Dave's floor in the living room still, thank God, while Adrian has been kicked out of every place he's gone to and is now living outside. Drunk still. I work, so I manage to live. I don't make enough money from book sales as yet to survive, so people like Dave and Peter Gorman and Pedro and Doug and John and Ivonne and many others are helping me out so I don't lose even more weight.

I don't know what I'm going to do about dinner today. It's not looking good so far. I'm busy putting out copy about street names in Iquitos so I can move on to finish writing about steamship companies in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

With illustrations I have 287 pages as of now. The question is not whether I make dinner, but whether I make my deadline.

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