alabama brown and the raiders of lost youth

i’ve been in guatemala. i saw around 100 patients and my partner did about 50 eye surgeries. our ortho guy who went with us did a lot of great stuff too. “the lame walked and the blind saw.”  it was a great week, until. . . .

we finished up and went for an expedition in the rainforest. it was very primeval, just like avatar, only the people were coffee-brown, not blue, and they didn’t have those long, braid thingies hanging down.

the little children wore loincloths and performed perfect-10 swan dives into the river off a large rock of ages. there was a lady bathing, sorta like o brother, where art thou?, only she wasn’t a siren and she wasn’t singing. she seemed to stare right through us like we weren’t even there.

I thought–wow!–this is the the way a majority of the world lives and they seem okay with it. I thought, what’s a clumsy, fat gringo like me doing in a place like this? I don’t belong here!

hold that thought.

while we were in the rainforest, it actually started to rain. imagine that. that made the deep, rocky ravine we were descending in search of the lost artifacts of the Mayan king Pakal the Great that much more slippery and dangerous.

i fell once but landed on my backside, bounced, did a quadruple yurchenko then stuck the landing just like mary lou retton. eyegal almost fell several times, but i managed to catch her every time while still managing to scan the dense jungle cover for signs of danger.

that’s when i saw them. eyes. lots of them. we were being followed.

number one son began to whimper and suddenly became a 3-year-old again. he was not at all like a lithe, limber sherpa who leaped from rock to rock searching for the best footing so that his aging parents wouldn’t fall and embarrass themselves and him. nope, that’s not the way it was.

i shouldered the load as usual. a globetrotting, adventurous, bad-a father’s work is never done.

we had heard that the lost fountain of youth was nearby and figured that might be a good place to start looking for the artifacts. we thought we’d check it out, maybe even splash around a bit and take some pictures. i was already feeling half my age, i.e. 25, but it never hurts to have a little insurance.

after fending off prehistoric mosquitoes the size of pterodactyls and hacking our way through the jungle with our machetes, we spotted it. it was on the other side of a raging river teeming with piranhas.

some would have you believe it was little more than a stream, even a creek. but don’t you believe them. it was like the amazon, only much, much bigger.

just then, the old nazi with the monocle showed up. he’d been hiding in the jungle since wwii and was searching for the artifacts too. needless to say, he would stop at nothing to get them.

the nazi yelled “achtung baby!” which was the signal for the eyes to attack. poisonous darts whizzed past our ears as the war cries of “foto, foto, foto!” echoed through the jungle.

had it not been for my trusty sidekick and translator danny showing up just in the nick of time flying that rusty 1950s-era sirkosky h-19 helo, we might have perished.

i cracked my bullwhip a few times to beat back the attacking hordes and flicked it toward the helicopter and wrapped it around a wheel. i hung on to eyegal and number one son with my left arm and the bullwhip with the right.

amazingly, none of the poisonous darts hit us even though we were just dangling there like a large lily-white piñata. the old nazi shook his fist and cursed his fate as we flew out of sight.

by the time we reached base camp (aka, “Clinica Ezell”), i had ruptured the tendons and ligaments in my right elbow, stretching my arm to twice it’s normal length. our ortho guy tried to stuff it all back in–without anesthesia–but to no avail. i didn’t so much as wince.

everyone patted me on the back and told me how brave and loyal and true i was. papa hemingway would have been proud. the young coeds from abilene swooned whenever i walked past.

did i mention to you that i’m on pain medication? well, i am. it’s not the really, really good stuff, but it’s enough “to take the edge off.” i wouldn’t go so far as to say i’m “high,” but i am very creative.

some will try to tell you that i merely slipped on a wet rock as i was crouching down with both arms out actually trying not to fall. they’ll feed you some line about how my right arm got twisted behind me and that all my weight fell on it.

they will make some smart-a remark about how my ego was writing checks my body couldn’t cash just like mav did in top gun that time he did a high speed pass over penny benjamin, the admiral’s daughter.

do not believe them. they’re just jealous of my fedora and manly stubble.

i was there. that’s my story, and i’m stickin’ to it.

trust me.

  1. Susan

    Love this!!! The story is even more wonderful (in fact, ten times over!) because I know the people and places of which you speak.  🙂  xo

  2. Sandy

    Okay…I think it may be time to cut back some on the pain meds.  I was already worried that he was “getting ideas” with all the TLC he’s getting…now, I’m just thinking we may have to cold turkey some of this stuff!!!

  3. David U

    Stick to your guns!  I believe EVERY word of your tale!!  :)DU

  4. CarolinaGirl

    I believe you – only b/c I’ve been somewhere in Guat.  ;0)

  5. Dave

    excellent story…as always!

  6. Michael Brown

    i’m very thankful for my merry little band of true believers. at times like these, you find out who your real friends are!

    now, can one of you come over here and help me with the shift key?

  7. Bill Gnade

    Dear Indy, You should see if someone could write a screenplay about your experience. Yes, it is that good. I am thinking you might even get three, maybe four films out of the whole concept. Perhaps you might even get someone involved who could use an idea; I bet if you got hold of that Stephen Spielberg fellow you might just give him a project that will finally put him on the map. (Thanks for making me laugh. I am sorry your injury is so serious, but it surely could have been worse. Gratefully there is no evidence of any damage to your funny bone.)

  8. Charlie

    So that’s where you’ve been.  Did the ghost of e. e. cummings also visit you during your hallucinations?

  9. Michael Brown

    Bill: I bet you have similar stories from your own life. And yes, perhaps I should toss Stephen Spielberg a few crumbs from my table.

    Charlie: I’m please to report that my function has improved to the point that I can now reach the “Shift” key. No more e.e. cummings.

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