Michael's Dispatches

Darien Gap: Tale of Airplane Dogfight Crash in Jungle, Stealing wild meat from a Jaguar, Boating While Drunk, and Losing the Boat...More

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The most unmarkable hotwater spring in history. Smaller than jacuzzi, and cooler. The nearest farmhouse was beyond an arcing rifle shot. Ten minutes by horse. Horses are the motorbikes of Darien Province.

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And this horse, somewhere far out near Sambu on another day, was carrying a truck tire, appropriately, through an Embera village. Horses can go where 4 wheel drive bog.

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But horses and mules meet their muddy match in Darien:

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When Spanish came with horses, Indians were afraid. Having never seen horses, or Spaniards.

Indians thought horses may be vicious creatures. The Spaniards surely were, and the Spaniards learned the sting of Indian poison darts, exciting new jungle diseases, the joy of local mosquitos, wonderful new snakes. While Indians learned about exciting European diseases such as measles, muskets, and more.

And the slave trade brought the wonders of Yellow Fever with the first know epidemic in nearby Yucatan in 1648. No study of history since the introduction of Yellow Fever is complete without a historical study of Yellow Fever which, without any doubt, more influenced United States and France than the revolver.

And today, many Embera trot around on horses, still the best four-hoof-drive in these parts.

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After the hot spring, we tread through mud back over a stream.

Lincon, my Embera guide, who loves birdwatching and can imitate calls of various birds, bugs, and frogs, saw a vine, saying it's medicine.

Lincon snapped out his pocketknife. Cut and stripped the vine from a smaller vine, coiled it like a cable. Then we headed to Yaviza.

Down the Pan Am highway. An Army truck full of migrants passed at Lajas Blancas. Darien Peninsula is more a crossroads of the world today than ever before. Another day, Cuban migrant shows me his feet after emerging from the adventure of Darien Gap, on the modern day Gold Rush to America.

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Another Cuban migrant to America sports a tattoo:

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A pregnant migrant survives the Darien Gap but can hardly move.

When you jungle your way through Darien Isthmus on any sort of gold rush, there will be casualties. Just as there were casaulties when my family shipwrecked on Berbda in 1609, and finally reached Jamestown in 1610 only to find colonizers eating each other, and Indians. (Dampening the relationship.)

Read the blue part:

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And when SpaceX goes to Mars, casualties are a sure bet. And when things go wrong — they will go wrong at times — Marstronauts may be barbecuing each other on Red Planet. Scientifically, of course. Calculating caloric value vs. living value, and burn rate. Donner Pass. The story never changes.

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Mud devours all.

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