Crazy Old Gringo


Have you ever had a day when you fell into a deep funk? And almost nothing you said or did allowed you to snap out of it? I know I have. Yesterday was such a day for me.

Nothing in particular caused it.

Just a combination of several things.

For one thing—though it’s so hot here even the Devil would be soaked in sweat—dark clouds hung over Iquitos like a wet blanket. Also, a friend I’ve known for years claimed he didn’t owe me fifty soles ($16). He’d borrowed it from me before I left for Atlanta last year. It wasn’t so much the money I’d lost that bothered me.

What upset me was that someone I’ve known for years would do this to me.

So I wasn’t in a good mood when I began the half mile trek from my house to the  Dawn On The Amazon Restaurant my friend, Bill Grimes, operates. A Hoosier from Indiana, Bill is probably the most respected expat in this town located smack-dab in the middle of the Amazon rain forest. I didn’t want to be in a sour mood by the time I arrived at Bill’s place. So I did something that never fails to lift my spirit when I’m feeling low.

I thought about one of my deceased father’s favorite hymns: Count Your Blessings. One day when I was a boy he sat me down and said, “Whenever you’re feeling blue, son, just count your blessings.”

Recalling this sage advice, I said aloud. “Thank you for my good health, Lord.”

For the next fifteen minutes I verbally thanked God for the many ways He continually blesses me. A half dozen blocks from Bill’s restaurant a small group of retired Peruvians were congregated under the shade of a mamey tree. Drinking coffee while reminiscing about their younger days.

As I passed them, a leather-faced, white-haired guy I’ve known for years nodded his head at me and said to his friends in a playful voice, “There goes that crazy old gringo.”

Smiling, I glanced over at my fellow senior citizens.

Returning my smile, they raised their cups in a friendly salute.

I continued making my way to Bill’s place. Glancing up at a bright ray of sunshine that had broken through the clouds and was bathing me with  a long finger of light , I said aloud, “Thanks for bringing me up the right way, Dad.”







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