Gringo Manaba

Adventuras y Fantasias or Fantastical Adventures


  • December 2005
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Dowbrigade, Newshound

Posted by glasscastle on December 23rd, 2005

Although we are ostensibly on vacation, the mind never takes a vacation,
or rather the mind takes its vacations when distracted by sex or powerful
psychotropic substances, from whence it sends back no post cards. But
up here at altitude, we have always found that the mind operates with
clarity. Perhaps a combination of the clean air, physical exercise and
cool temperatures. In fact, when we go back down to sea level, as we inevitably
do, we feel ourselves being enfolded in layers of mental guaze, as if
part of our mind is going back to sleep.

At any rate, in our conversations with people down here we have become
aware of two stories which, were we a real journalists, and not on vacation,
we would dearly love to investigate and document. As it is, we will make
a typically slapdash bloggers effort to see firsthand, get some photos
or video, and some first-hand commentary. As a card carrying member of
the Pajamahadin, we can do no less.

The first story has to do with global warming, not that we would presume
to tackle such a transcendant topic in a comprehensive manner.  But
here near the visible line between earth and ice, there is clear physical
evidence that the environment is changing.

22 years ago the Dowbrigade visited the Pastorrouri Glacier, a 4-hour
trip overland from Carhuaz, our current location.  We went in a
pickup truck, which we parked in a frigid recreation area with a few
sorry soda pop stands and Indian women selling knitted hats, mittens
and scarves.  From
there it was an easy 15 minute walk to the snowline.

We climbed up on the glacer, and threw snowballs at each other. We slid
down an icy incline on green plastic garnage bags. Our son Joey, who
was 4 at the time, almost fell through a tiny crack in the glacier, ending
up wedged in and supported by his outstretched elbows. We got him out post
haste and retreated into the most incredible ice caverns we have seen
in our life – translucent, ethereal, magical – a natural fortress of solitude.

Joey is now 25 and owns the hotel where we are staying.  He tells
us that the ice caverns are all gone now, melted away, and that it is
too dangerous to let tourists just wander on the ice; too many holes, crevices
and soft spots.  The glacier has receeded so much that it now takes
an hour to walk from the parking place to the snowline. We are trying to
figure out how to get up there in the four days we have left, and if we
do, we will post our report.

The other story has to do with the war in Iraq.  Isn’t it icredible
how the most momentous news stories have repercussions on the local level
everywhere in the world? It is a developing story we first reported almost
a year ago, involving allegedly CIA-affiliated private companies recruiting
Colombian gunmen to act as mercenary muscle in Iraq.

Since the initial reports there has been continuing confirmation in
the local press in Colombia and Ecuador, where the operation is supposedly
being coordinated at the Manta Airbase US Military Forward Operating Location.
"Rented" on a 99-year lease from the Ecuadorian government, this airbase
has basically taken over the logistics, surveilance and electronics roles
of the US Souther Command after they were kicked out of Panama with the
transfer of the canal.  Reports from Ecuador suggested that thousands
of young males, many with military experience but also some ex-guerillas
and drug cartel enforcers, were being signed up and shipped out.

Now, in Peru we are hearing the same stories. Young men from many backgrounds
but who know how to handle weapons, are being offered $2,000 a month
to work security details in the Middle East. $2,000 is more than a doctor
or a lawyer makes down here,  There are plenty of takers.

What happens to these people after they fall into the maw of the American
war machine? What do they actually do over there? So far, we have seen
no first-hand reports or interviews.  This recruiting has been going
on for over a year, at least in Colombia, but as far as we know none of
them have come home again to tell the tale. What exactly is going on here?

Next week, the Dowbrigade is heading to the scene of the crime, so to
speak, Manta, Ecuador, the center of the conspiracy. We’ll see if we can
get any of the troops at the FOL to go on record, or even just gossip,
of Latin Fighters in Iraq.

One Response to “Dowbrigade, Newshound”

  1. Mark Says:

    Nice article.