South American Travel Notes, Part Three

After more than a week in the deep wilderness, in the Amazonian basin, where Boliva meets Peru and there are more waterways than roads, three native people asked me where I am from, since it was clear to them from my visage and my language that I’m not indigenous. Not a soul asked, “What do you do for a living?”

Living, it’s understood in the jungle, is what one does when he has air in his lungs and light in his eyes. Work is the means to food, shelter, and the ability to travel — whether by motorized canoe or the luxurious airplane alternative.

The assumption here is that if you have enough spare cash to travel a long distance by jet — especially to remote precincts of the rainforest — you are unimaginably rich, and it would be impertinent to ask what made you that way. Being lucky enough to be born in the United States of America, where seemingly every young adult with a backpack has the financial resources to go where he wants (by airplane, no less), is reason enough to explain one’s wealth.

What do I do (for a living)? What all the other gringos do: I come from a place where anything is possible.

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