Dust blew down on Dirt Street as each bag of gold was sold,
air flirted with stale meat from fritango stalls.
Miners came down, aching from the Hacienda Ridge,
each placed a stake; aqua tinted hands glowed green and gold.
He would sail home to his wife and many children,
who lived inside his brother's house at Ciudad Bolivar.
Life upstream was armed and very dangerous,
The Commissioner had been murdered in a coup d'etat.
Carry guns up narrow tracks leading to Paragua,
pressure hoses sluice away the heavy clinging mud.
Heard the crack of pistols downing jaguar,
salsa flood vibrated in the soil near where we stood.
Bodies danced near the edges of the night
in a formless mix of artifice and the sensuous
Thunder rolled, lightening forked parted distant hills,
the native woman's talk seemed disingenuous.
Next day our party moved to Guayaquil,
where hammocks swung between palm thatched houses.
Stocking up with candles rope and paraffin,
packed in wicker baskets, handed through a grill.
A fat bullying Criolla, mouth crammed full of gold,
smiled as girls strolled past in Day-Glo trousers.
His turquoise nylon shirt stretched tight as any drum,
he cooked pale peach coloured fish meat split open with his thumb.
Sounds like beating bird wings pinged on upturned rusting cans,
stuck on high poles, rattling in Andean winds.
Boats came in and out, caked with sand, swamp and fever,
their owners dreamed of leaving for distant lands.