Thursday, November 20, 2014

Down and Out in Iquitos and Peru, (2)

I am seriously hampered in writing my newest book book here, the life of a struggling writer having come to full bloom.

Yesterday I got some bread from my friend David's kitchen out back of the house. Kitchens in Iquitos are usually out back, away from everything, because ants come, by the millions, and devour everything, including the kitchen. Ants might not ceramic tiles and stainless steel pots, but they eat wood and food and other organic stuff. The humidity eats more solid things, and the soil eats cement. Nothing lasts here for long but the continuous renewal of life itself. The seeming slow pace is a disguise for the most rapid turn-over of life on this planet. Watch, and things will dissolve before your eyes. Life is a frantic scramble to stay ahead of death just long enough to replace life. Life has to be replaced so other things can eat. It is somehow frightening to witness this extraordinary pace of turning over.

Last day I found some bread and a dozen black and tiny bananas on the table in the sunlight. I peeled the tough and sticking skins off the bananas and wrapped two of them in bread. That was lunch. I spent the rest of my day writing about the old steamship companies who, in part, make Iquitos the city it is today.

One reason, aside from my obsession with completing this book on deadline, that I didn't make a greater effort to find money to get food is that I was supposed to pick up some ayahuasca from a fellow across town last evening. I wrote and thought and did my usual routines till 5:30, at which time I walked to my destination and waited for the next three hours. The man didn't come. He seems to like me, and I was put out that he stood me up. I borrowed $0.35 and got a bottle of no-name soda for dinner as I went home to fume.

Today, sitting at the computer to work further on the history of Iquitos, Peru, he came by and dropped off a bottle of ayahuasca with wambisa. Then he left without a word. I had some coffee this morning, thanks to my friend David. Tonight I might sit alone when the others have gone to bed, and then I might drink this ayahuasca and find out things.

Meanwhile, I continue to write this book.

If you are coming to Iquitos, or if you have been here and want to know more about it, I suggest you look at my books from here:

Iquitos, Peru: Almost Close.

If you are a curious person, you might want to know more about ayahuasca:

 Confessions of an Ayahuasca Skeptic.

If your taste in books is literary, then I hope you will read my novel set in Iquitos:

 Jockk Brand vs. the Toe Master and the Suicide Kings of Iquitos, Peru.

Next time I might write about how this ayahuasca treated me. I will also continue this report on writing for my deadline. I don't know if I will make that.

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.