14 January 2008


He was diminutive Jesus, the sot, who lived in the clearing in the rain forest near Sixaola, Costa Rica, south of Limon, and who kept, after successful hunting trips, a skinned, fly-covered whole tepesquintle (a very large, wild “mountain rat") hanging above his hearth slowly desiccating into rat jerky, and where directly below he kept a pot of black beans perpetually cooking which he generously offered his infrequent visitors. I, the vegetarian, ate happily (of the beans), gazing across the clearing into the dark understory of the cathedral-like rain forest trying to avoid thoughts of the half-roasted, half-raw rat carcass guarding my meal.

Jesus related to me the story about his losing his dog. They were out, the two of them, hunting rain-forest game, such as the tespesquintle, when Jesus heard an awful yelp from his hunting companion ahead. He found his pet wrapped against the trunk of a large tree by a huge boa. His machete soon released the dead dog and the serpent never enjoyed its last supper.

A year later, after I returned to the U.S., I learned that diminutive, dogless, desiccated Jesus, the sot, fell off one of the always-wet, precarious single-log bridges I teeteringly crossed in that part of the Costa Rican rain forest. He was found facedown in the swirling stream, his body finally hydrating, under the dark, unforgiving, dripping cathedral canopy of death.

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