Hildo, boat Maestro

boat building teacher


This is Hildo. He is my boat building teacher. He taught himself to build little row boats by watching and doing. Before there were no motors here. I am staying in a hospedaje called ‘Legend’s Lodge’ along the river, better known as Diana’s house. Hildo is my neighbor.

Hildo is a fisherman and a farmer. When the river is low he catches fish. Other times he sows and harvests. Right now he is harvesting Yucca. The land is underwater so he needs to dig up the Yucca before it rots. This is why I had to wait an extra week to start on the boat.

Hildo and his family are Evangelicals. When Hildo smiles his eyes are clear and shining. It is like he is radiating pure God joy. He is not money hungry. I trust him. This is why I did not quickly look for another boat teacher through all the indeterminable waiting, though sometimes I wanted to claw out my eyes.

The houses either side of the hospedaje belong to Hildo’s extended family. They all live here along the river. Aunts, Uncles, Brothers, Sisters and their Wives and Husbands and children. Hildo lives with his wife and youngest daughter and grandson. In the evenings he likes to swing in the hammock.

When I first told Hildo I would like to build a boat and row down river he told me about the organ thieves. But this didn’t deter me because I had already heard of them. They steal organs out of (live) people and export them to places like the US. This makes me wonder who is buying the organs on the other end.

The owner of the hospedaje, Diana, has seen the gruesome consequences of these organ pillages. She was staying down with a family at Belen (the river-side shanty town in Iquitos) when a child came in crying, screaming that they had got her uncle. They brought the body in under a sheet. They’d stolen his heart and tongue. Diana only saw the sheet with blood seeping through. She didn’t much want to see the corpse. Diana has seen a lot and has lots of stories.

I told Hildo I was probably more likely to have my organs thieved in town than out on the river. He agreed that nowhere was safe, and that wherever I am I should ask God to protect me. Then he told me I would need a wood called Katawa Amarilla for the boat. That seems a very long time ago now.



Posted on April 5, 2014, in Preparation. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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