Friday, July 5, 2019

Vampire Bats Gotta Eat

Chapter 5 of 25 -- Head Hunters of the Amazon
The Napo

Up de Graff got a companion in Jack Rouse, who just showed up at the door. He was about 45, rugged, not broadly built but giving the impression he was strong. And he didn't stand on ceremony. Up de Graff called him Mr. Rouse and he put in, "Cut out the titles." They shared a decent meal of rice and beans, very welcome to Mr. R--, er, Jack. But who could blame his appetite, he'd had nothing to eat for two months but bananas. Reminding me, I have a problem with bananas: Fruit flies! I wouldn't make a great companion on their journey when even fruit flies bother me...

Jack's story was he'd run away when he was 14. Most of his family was killed by Indians. He’d drifted to the Klondike for gold. Then he was a messenger and driver on a stage-line. Somehow he made his way to South America, probably under shady circumstances, and there he was. He said curtly, "Uncle Sam is looking for me," which is all kinds of nasty! Still, a perfect resume for a job equally as nasty in what lay before them. 

Their journey would commence in the morning, so they hoped to spend a comfortable night on the floor of the shelter. As they lay talking, Up de Graff noticed something periodically flying in one end of the shelter, crossing over them, and disappearing at the other end. In fact, they flew so low they could feel their wings on their faces. Thinking it was owls, they let it go. (Who does that?) When Up de Graff woke at dawn, though, he felt dizzy and weak. Then he saw "a great ugly clot of blood" hanging from the back of Jack's head. He thought it must've been the Indians. Then he noticed blood on his own blanket. He called the Indians in to explain it, but they laughed it off, saying the "night-birds" had been feeding. Vampire bats!

Larger than an ordinary bat, its wingspan is between 10 and 12 inches. And of course it lives on the blood of live animals and people. It has two pair of very sharp eye-teeth, and there's a lot of other information here I'm never going to need, and certainly if I ever do it'll never happen twice. It's a constant thing, though, for those unfortunate enough to be there, to the point that if you're under an awning, say, the Vampires will make a hole the size of their head in the material and proceed to suck you dry! Not at all good for your awning.

Anyway, terrible as all that is, the got up, did their business, and were off by 2:00 p.m. on the Napo River. With a stiff current they made good progress. They found a place to sleep, but when they awoke they found they'd been tapped again by the bats. Doh! Which was apparently a problem over the years. 

After a few days they reached the mouth of the Suno River and found a Columbian trader, Mejias, who outfitted them with some important goods, guns, etc. He then turned them on to some inside dope on a little river, an unexplored job (you didn't hear it from me), called the Yasuni. Savages there? Yeah, yeah, lots of savages. But, you know, I've heard they might be descendants of the Incas, that's Inca as in GOLD. So they went up the trail to Loreto to find Indians to help on an expedition. But it would take three weeks for the Indians to prepare their marching kit.

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