After a good cup from Adriana’s teapot, I felt completely exhausted. A tropical rainstorm poured down on the boat. With curtains of rain everywhere there was nothing to be seen.

“Our clothes won’t dry fast that way,” said Herby, still a little depressed.

I went up the deck and felt an overwhelming urge to sleep. Millions of heavy raindrops hit the Padrinos’ metal roof, and the noise dragged me into another, unconscious world.

When I woke up, the sun was shining, and I saw Herby’s face.

“Oh my God, I patted your back some twenty times. Are you hibernating? I thought you wouldn’t wake up.”

I rubbed my eyes. I felt caught by my dream. I had seen my father in some difficult situation. I was worried.

“Look over here, Frank,” I heard Herby saying. “I can’t believe it!”

“What’s wrong,” I inquired, still rubbing my eyes.

“Just come over here and have a look!”

Gracefully, the Padrino pushed around the next meander and in front of us laid the village of Groa, its Indian huts scattered over an opening, an abra, in the forest.

“Nice village,” I remarked.

“You don’t get it,” said Herby. “Look at the clay wall. Over there are our barges.”

Herby was right. Aligned one by one, they lay in the tiny village’s port. Our roustabouts were there, and waving at us.

“This is impossible,” I said. “There was no tugboat around, and these barges can only drift… I know what I’m talking about.”

I lived one of the strangest moments in my life. My observations didn’t make any sense. Was our life after all nothing but a huge collective dream, with thousands of ramifications, and subplots? Herby shook his head, puzzled like me, and picked up one of Mario’s revistas. Its title said: ‘Only revolutionary socialism can propel Peru into the future.’

Meanwhile we had reached the shoreline, and the Padrino gently took berth along the harbor’s clay wall. With great joy we received our lost roustabouts.

“Hey you gringos, do you want to join me for a swim?”

It was Adriana. She stood at the lower deck, in her bra and underpants, and was about to jump into the river. She looked gorgeous. Not that she could compete with the pale and sexy front page girls. Her hips were large and strongly built. She had opened her black hair. It fell over her large shoulders. It looked like she could carry the world. But she was a real woman, from this very earth and with a fresh caramel skin. She was by no means a painted plastic puppet. Her lips were red, and without any lipstick.

I didn’t make her wait for too long, and even Herby joined us after a while. It was great to paddle around in the river. After a few days without a decent shower I didn’t think too much about the probable stingrays, caiman and the piranhas around us. We played in the water, and had a lot of fun. Both Jimenez and the proud Sanchez threw us evil glances. Most men are idiots, in one way or the other, I thought. Jealous and full of pride, they couldn’t join in and be part of the fun game.

Adriana withdrew to her den and gave me a hot sparkling glance before disappearing behind the corner of her kitchen door. ‘That girl is in the mood,’ I thought. Dusk was about to fall. Drums were sounding from the village.

“Let’s go,” said Herby. “This looks like fun over there,” pointing toward the village. Well, there could be fun on the boat too, I thought. I selected a blue shirt and went to see Adriana. A tiny petroleum burner gave a flickering light. There she lay in her cod, in her best white dress, and adequately perfumed. Her eyes sparkled, and she rubbed her thighs against each other. Unfortunately this brat of Esperanzita kept on humming around. Without her presence I would have held Adriana a hundred times in my arms already, and enjoyed her wonderful female nature to the fullest. Just when I pondered about the how to proceed, my friend Herby came to interrupt our evolving tête-à-tête. He was a person who would always turn up at the wrong moment for the right reasons. Preoccupied with politics, and sometimes mathematics, love relations didn’t rank high on his agenda.

(c) 2008 by Franz L Kessler