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Aardvark
April 23rd, 2007, 04:39 PM
2007 Aardvark. All Rights Reserved. No part of the following text may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without written permission from Aardvark, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review.



Stupid Too


Chapter Four


Into Skin Air



The smell of the Rainforest of Udzungwa is more of a bouillabaisse taste than a combination of disparate odors. You drink in the aroma as if it were a soup it’s so moist and alive. My soul was in need of nourishment and this start to my visit was a delicious appetiser.

It took quite a while to organise the prospective staff and us. For today, we would require two or three kids to haul up a few supplies. They were essentially porters but I told them that from here out they were teenage mutant ninja Sherpa. The boys broke down the kit further according to my instructions and I tried to sort out our deal with the bus driver to go and fetch the local items Moro had placed on order.

“What is this Mr. Aard?”

“Bivvy sack. Keep it handy, it needs to go up today.”

He continued to dig out gear while I questioned him on how much we owed to the merchants we were dealing with.

“You’re sure they have everything right?”

‘Yes, Mr. Aard, everything yes is good.”

“Aard damn it, call me Aard!”

“Yes Mr. Aard.”

Our communications of the last year had come through a multi-tech chain that started with me emailing the Safari Lodge. From there a written message would go to the lodge bus drivers who would give it to whichever of the brothers, sisters or cousins happened to be around when the tourists arrived every other day or so.

“Mr. Aard! What is this?”

He was holding a box of small hooks that had been gift wrapped with a bow.

I had an excellent good idea as to what they were and told him to open them.

“What is do what we call these?”

If he could have read the box, he might have enjoyed the joke as intended.

“Those are called Aardvark fifi hooks.”

Moro gave the hooks a good once over.

“Mr. Aard, what’s is mean fifi?”

“Fifi is English for masculine, you know…manly, rugged, virile…that sort of thing.”

I held up my arm, flexing muscle and sucking in gut and air.

“Why is call them Aardvark? Is you is famous?”

“Well guys, I don’t like to brag but, well… they don’t call them Viesturs hooks!”

The brothers exchanged some Swahili and some laughs. I wondered if one day they would get my joke. It took an hour before we were ready to depart.


Moro and Briggy were carrying most of the gear while I took the lightest load. I had given each of them a short section of rope and was quizzing them on knots as we humped up the switchback. Of the printed information I had sent them over the years, the illustrated knot catalogue had made the biggest impression. Both had mastered the essential dozen odd combinations they would need as well as numerous variations.

“Okay Moro, take this and give me a Prusik.”

I gave him a thinner piece of rope, cordolette actually, and watched as he tied the ends together with a nice double fisherman’s bend and then deftly created a fine slide and grip knot on the thicker rope.

“Mr. Aard, we have make many knots now and every day!”

“Aard, call me Aard, Moro. Today and tomorrow, I will show you why these knots are so important. I am impressed with your work guys, you create beautiful knots, now give me a Bachman.”

I pulled a biner from my side and tossed it to him as we continued through the canopy.

We were making good time and soon had caught up with the others. Brief pleasantries were exchanged before we left them on one of the exposed ridges where they took pictures and caught their breath. I needed a breather as well but was not going to show it in front of the regular tourists…and Victoria Lee little-nose.

The trail to Sanje Falls itself is not a difficult hike and only has a few places where you could get into any real trouble but Udzungwa National Park is not somewhere you want to get into trouble. It is among the last of places truth be told.

Tanzania is one of the world’s poorest nations. The vast majority of Tanzanians do not even have electricity and their average life expectancy is in the area of 45 years. The idea that they could afford to keep any kind of search and rescue teams supplied, trained and at the ready for the benefit of people who get hurt or lost in the wilderness is unrealistic. They don’t even do search and rescue for domestic aviation disasters. Yep. If you are taking a bush plane from Iringa to Man’ula and don’t show up you are fucked.

Simple as that.

Fucked...unless you have friends with planes, nobody is going to go looking for you.

This is a country twice the size of California but with the GDP of an Inuit fishing village. There is no money for the frivolous enterprise of search and rescue anywhere. If you get lost wandering the Savannah nature will take care of you quickly as you enter the food chain from the wrong end. If your plane ditches in the rainforest hills tough luck… Shit happens, wipe your ass. If you break your leg hiking in the back Mountains rest assured calling 911 would do you no good.

“When do we leave the main trail Moro?”

“Just soon here Mr. Aard, not being farther.”

“Dude…I keep telling you, call me Aard.”

The two of them giggled as they led me off the main trail and across the face of the hill towards the base of the falls. The brothers moved with considerable grace and apparent lack of effort through the dense woods and I struggled mightily to keep pace.

We set ourselves up on the west side of the falls with a clear view of the dry face beside the main chute. This would be our route. The sun was an hour short of high but already we were drenched as the task of sorting through the remaining kit and explaining it became our focus.

Order of business number one was laying it out and making sure the boys knew what each piece was called. As I extricated the various tools, they oohed and awed before repeating the names.

“Dynamic rope, Static rope.”

“Dynamic rope, Static rope.”

“Dynamic rope stretches, static rope doesn’t.”

“Dynamic rope stretches, static rope doesn’t.”

They sang it back in the way Africans do. There was rhythm and pitch to each syllable and I loved it.

“Hex’s, stoppers and cams.”

“Hex’s, stoppers and cams.”

“Locking biners, non locking biners.”

“Locking biners, non locking biners.”

We continued through slings and draws until everything down to the last belay device and nut tool was spread out at our feet. I had left a good chunk of gear in the bus but we still had a serious case of overkill going which suited me fine. Part of the lesson today was on hauling stuff up and extra practice was required, besides, I was planning a little something unique for later on and was not going to be denied my pleasures. We would be roping up my playthings in addition to some special items for my friends.

From one knapsack pocket, I took out three inexpensive but functional sport watches.

“Put these on fellows. They are going to come in handy and you need to get used to wearing them. They are yours now, take care not to break them doing something stupid.”

This was the first real moment they had to consider the scope of my arrival’s consequence. The initial excitement of seeing me was more the fact that I actually returned to visit than the idea I had brought them gifts. The gift of keeping your word and showing you cared was more valuable than any trinket or money. For them, it is about respect, dignity and equality in a place where visitors are a constant reminder of how unfair the world can be to so many.

“Mr. Aard, do you mean these ours when make much money for you?”

“Aard, call me Aard. Jesus…hehehe. If…and it’s always if, money is to be made, it is our money…got that? Our money...and those are your watches. Yours and nobody else’s.”

Neither had ever owned a watch before. In their village there was little need and even less money for them. Africans like to tell anally punctual foreigners that they have all of the watches but the Africans have all of the time. These two Africans had enough time to cry just a little.

“Here guys, put these on. It’s important to look professional and from here on out you’re the pros from Dover.”

The reference was lost on them and they took off their shirts and put on spiffy new work tee’s. They were blue with gold trim to evoke the flag of Tanzania and had our company logo over the breast pocket. It is a yin-yang symbol with a stylized ‘M’ on either side of the ‘S’ that separates them.

“Morobrig Mountain Services….what do you think guys?”

The boys were gut-bust happy and looked great in the company colours.

“Here, give these a go.”

I dared not tell them their new Jumblo shades kicked in at $170.00 retail but I did impress upon them to only use them during work hours and to use the Chinese knock-off Barclay’s I bought in Addis the rest of the time.

“Okay, we need to get you into some climbing pants. These should fit…try them on.”

We were far away from the village and alone at the base of the waterfall. I was trying to minimise any public viewing of the personal gear my new partners were getting so as not to tip the cart of village envy too much. There was the additional issue of drilling into them the importance of not sharing their new possessions with anyone. It was key to our long-term success that they maintained the right equipment and always presented a very professional face to our potential clients.

The idea of them not sharing an extra pair of pants or shoes with a brother, sister or cousin who needed one was unfamiliar to them both. I promised we would make sure to take care of everyone but we couldn’t if they gave away our physical assets.

While we were undressing I could not help but feel I was suffering from NBA locker room envy. Both of them were hung like Saddam Hussein and the climbing harnesses they would soon wear would, by nature of design, further promote the obvious to anyone looking anywhere near them. This could only help charm middle-aged tourist women into hiring us…likely a few men as well.

Their chirping went quiet for a moment when I took off my shorts to change. Looking oddly at me were two wide-eyed Africans who had never seen a guy like moi with his pants off. I started to smile and they broke out in howls of disbelief and laughter.

As a rule, no guy wants to take his pants off in front of two well-endowed black men and have them burst out merrily but after an unpleasant moment of self-consciousness I realised it wasn’t the deck they were astounded by but the shrubbery around it. They had never seen a natural red-head before.

“Mr. Aard! Is that normal for Canadians?”

“Normal for us red-bushes Moro…including some women.”

The boys got a real kick out of my further dissection as to the various hues and colours of female pubic hairs, especially the rare and often forged Golden Fleece.

When we finally were fitted up and our kit sorted I had the two of them pose at the side of the river with their backs to the falls. If one were to judge by looks, they now came across like an ad from Outside magazine. Someday they might even be featured in it, given their natural climbing skills and photogenic charm.

Moro and Briggy were getting a little restless as we went over our communication protocols and each of us was anxious to get going but there is little room for error in climbing so I made them go over everything one last time before taking to the rock face in front of me. Moro would be handling the bottom belay and Briggy would follow next while I top belayed him.

It was like falling into the arms of an old and lamented lover when I placed the first stopper in the tiny fault up above to my right. The rock was now the only thing on Earth that mattered and I reminded myself to be respectful and caring. Falling from the grace of a special lover can break your heart but falling off the side of a mountain brings absolute mortality directly into the equation.

The first ascent was an easy one but we took it slowly as to get the guys used to the techniques required. In some ways, it was odd because we all knew they could climb up this part of the face in no time and without any gear, they had been doing it all their lives. The second ascent was more technical but it went quickly as they adapted to the new routine and the rhythm of a good climb.

“Keep your brain bucket on Briggy!”

He was still uncomfortable with a helmet and let it hang off him when we rested.

“Yes Mr. Aard, I will.”

For shits and giggles, we did a little traverse around half way up and I tied us into the rocks by a very small ledge where we took lunch. The view was wonderful but the idea that few, if any, had made this a place to dine was the most satisfying. For their part, the guys were well at ease with the heights and excited by the lessons just learned.

After lunch we moved off the cliffs and back into the forest, hoofing it most of the rest of the way to the top. There would be plenty of time for more lessons and practice later and we did not want to be late in meeting our porters.

Sixty meters from the top of the falls we left the bulk of the gear in the woods and did a fast, light climb to the top. I came over the summit crest and into view of the tourists who had preceded us, creating an immediate buzz that shot around the assembled. Vicky was not among them and my plan for a dramatic entrance was somewhat dashed.

I set the top belay and within minutes was joined by my fellow climbers.

“Anybody want me to hang of the side off the mountain and take a few snaps with their cameras?”

Of the ten or twelve folks there half of them approached me.

“It’s two bucks each and the money goes to buying lunch for some of the village kids who are on their way up here as we speak.”

An American guy pulled out a ten and asked if he could harness up and take it himself.

“That costs twenty-five but as our first customer and because you are almost a Canadian we’ll call it twenty…what say?”

He was pumped and I nudged Moro over to him to collect the money. He and his brother got their first taste of how easy this part of our enterprise might end up being.

After getting the primary customer serviced, I rappelled down and took pictures for the rest. In total, it took less than one hour and we had thirty-four bucks, including gratuities, to show for our efforts.

The teenage mutant ninja Sherpas, who numbered three when we departed, arrived in a group of seven, ranging in ages from eight to twelve. The ropes we had strewn about as well as the uniforms and harnesses that had transformed Moro and Briggy into mountain gods fascinated them.

Few of these kids had shoes and fewer of them had likely enjoyed a good meal at this later point in the day. No problems though, they had just carried up a big chunk of foodstuffs Moro had arranged for us earlier. I sat them all down on the flat rocks near the top of the main falls and served them sandwiches, scotch eggs, carrots and cookies while making retard faces and pretending to gather them up and throw them over the falls.

It was then that Victoria Lee emerged from the path along the upper falls behind us. The din of the cascading water made it impossible to hear her so she caught me a little off guard upon her arrival, tugging at my arm to get my attention. She led me back towards the main path where we could speak more easily.

“I have been watching you from above the middle falls for the last while.”

“Really? Do you like to watch? I like to watch.”

I gave her my best Chauncey Gardener imitation…I guess it wasn’t that good as she ignored the innuendous reply.

“Those children adore you and can’t get enough of your attention.”

I am good with kids. Kids always recognise another kid in adult clothing and they made me right away.

“Vicky, those kids adore me because I fed them and because they get little to no affection and attention most of the time.”

She stiffened a little.

“How do you know and who are you to judge their parents any way?”

“I am not judging their parents, just telling you the truth. They are all AIDS orphans…they don’t even have extended family to take care of them. They live in a make-shift home of mud brick and straw a few miles from here.”

She church-steepled her hands across her mouth and glanced back over at them.

“I had no idea…I…”

“Pas de sweat, pas de sweat…don’t worry about it. Would you like to join us for a little late lunch?”

Over the next hour, I explained to her the basic idea of my return to Sanje and how that strangely dovetailed with the recent discovery of a man in Tanzania who might well be my son and why I so desperately needed to meet him.


------------------------------------------


The sun disappears early, quickly and magnificently over the Mountains of Udzungwa and the day would soon be lost. The tourists had all left and the teenage mutant ninja Sherpas had too, each of them a dollar richer and a belly fuller. Only Moro, Briggy, myself and Vicky remained.

The brothers would depart soon but I was staying the night and Vicky had decided to join the camping expedition. Things were now going far better than I had ever imagined and my dung covered start of the day seemed a well-lived lifetime ago.

“Victoria Lee, you and I need to come to an understanding regarding what is about to happen here.”

“What understanding, what are you talking about Aard?”

We were about to test her use and knowledge of the common vernacular.

“You must agree to never tell anyone what you are about to see me do…agreed?”

I can’t agree to something without knowing what it is I am agreeing to. What are you talking about?”

“We had planned on being all alone up here for our little party. No witnesses and certainly no girls.”

“Party? What kind of party?”

“A none of your business party.”

She was not having any problem taking the bait.

“Look Vicky, it’s as simple as this. Very soon we are going to tie each other up very firmly and get into some extreme water sports.”

Her brain’s pinball machine was starting to tilt.

“In fact, we are going to enjoy the pleasures of the greatest golden shower imaginable.”

“Wha…?”

“I have been fantasising about this for years but wanted to make sure nobody was ever aware I had done it. This is the ideal place…no witnesses, no cameras and no police.”

“Golden shower? Did I hear you right?”

“I initially saw this in Banff when a couple of my crazy pals tried it. I have wanted to try it ever since but never had the right opportunity or the nerve until now. When I first came to Sanje three years ago and learned what Moro was doing a light went off in the darker recesses of my mind. Here was this amazing physical specimen doing tricks right in front of anyone who bothered to watch…and never with protection. None. But he loved doing the tricks and needs the money for his family so it is a sort of win-win but for the lack of protection and the fact these sickos would only give him three or four bucks a trick.”

She was now in complete shutdown mode.

“The way I see it, if you are going to service tourists in such a dangerous manner you may as well be highly paid for it and you must make sure you use protection. He will loose some business to those men who don’t want him to use protection but he will make it up in the long run by doing it my way. I eventually want to run a special members website for folks who like this kind of thing and I am certain we can quadruple our business expectations if that niche market is exploited in a subtle manner.”

Bewilderment turned to anger on her part.

“Look at them. What stunning creatures both. You tell me who wouldn’t want some once in a lifetime fun with a pair of young studs like them? I tell you Vicky, I’m getting quite worked up about it just talking…I can’t wait to feel the warm love from above.”

“Tricks? Protection? Water sports? Golden showers? Warm love from above?…and you are calling other people sickos? I have never been so repulsed in all of my life, I’m leaving now and never ever want to so much as see your perverted face again.”

“Wait just a minute here. What crawled up your ass and died lady? Get a grip ferchrissakes. I’m not coercing these guys into something they don’t like and don’t already do. We are all adults here except for Briggy but Jesus…look at him. Check out the roll of tar-paper between his legs. He may legally be underage but he is a man in every other way and like his brother is going to do tourist tricks whether we like it or not. They have supported their family like this for years and to stop now would take the food out of a dozen mouths.”

“You’re one of those sex tourist operators aren’t you! Oh my god to think I was starting to fall for an international criminal!”

“What the fuck are talking about Vicky, I’m no sex criminal, I'm a legitimate business man trying to help out the less fortunate…isn't that obvious? You’re a few black eyes shy of a battered wife aren’t you?”

If she were a Nun I had just hit on at an inappropriate time she would have stomped on the fresh wound of my dearly departed toe, instead she froze up and gave me the very best hairy eye-balls in the history of hairy eye-balls. This was going to be too much fun.



To be continued. . .



Cheers,
Aardvark



:icon_eek:

Cosmic Pig
April 23rd, 2007, 08:24 PM
Another excellent installment Aardy! Not what you'd call a predictable story. Definitely the most original ploy to get in a girl's pants I've ever seen.

Cos.

seagate
April 25th, 2007, 07:38 AM
:)

blackieC
April 30th, 2007, 07:02 AM
Bumping this shit for any Wombats that may have missed WOMBLIT102.

Fucking brilliant.

Tim Armstrong
April 30th, 2007, 08:33 AM
Damn fine!

Cheers, Tim

J.G.
April 30th, 2007, 10:36 AM
Now that my brain is more able to focus on other things, I look tres forward to reading this next installment.

: J

J.G.
May 1st, 2007, 09:35 PM
Ahhhh, that's better...

Now, if only I could get the image of the flaming hairs of the red grasslands out of my head. :Razz:

; J