Dear Mr. Morino,
So many incredible things have happened since my last letter that I hardly know where to begin.
I’ll start with the best news first – I’m hitchhiking back to Wisconsin and our dear Henry is coming with me!
Yeah, trust me when I say that I’m every bit as surprised as you are.
I’m sure you can imagine my astonishment when I happened to chance upon Henry along the trail to the ancient Incan city of Machu Picchu… no, on second thought it wasn’t chance at all, but fate.
It was pure fate that reunited me with our most prized llama whom I found plodding up the very same rainwashed path I was traveling on.
I am now certain that fate will soon carry us over the Andes, clear our path through the Amazon, and deliver us safely out of South and Central America without anymore major calamities to report.
Eventually, fate will see us all the way back to the Badger State where I can finally be restored to my rightful position as lead de-fleecer at Shear and Shave Llama Services. As you must know, in your heart of hearts, my position at your company was outright stolen from me by that dastardly Senor Juan-Know-It-All-Espinoza. Still, I hold no grudges against the man and pray one day he will realize that he’s a useless human being and llama grooming just isn’t his cup of tea.
Thus far, Peru has certainly been no picnic -but don’t you worry none about me, Mr. Morino! I now have Henry back by my side and I believe the worst of it is definitely behind me. To be honest, it’s Henry I worry about the most. His heart was broken way up there on that mountain and losing love brings tremendous hurt – even to a wooly, old guanaco llama. Although my llama translating skills are a bit rusty, I was able to get the gist of what happened to Henry through a series of tail, body, and ear postures coupled with humming and a high-pitched rhythmic shrill. Basically the story Henry told me went something like this:
For me it was love at first sight. Though she was traveling down from the highlands within a harem of five other females, she was the only llama to catch my eye. She had an elongated neck, the roundest muzzle, and the cutest cleft lip I’d ever seen. She was the kind of llama that could make your wool unfurl and stand up on end. Her name was Lena and she was beautiful.
I thought I could just ignore those passions stirring within me. I wish now I would’ve simply turned and pranced away. I knew how much you needed me and how worried you’d be if I lingered there any longer, but it wasn’t I who betrayed you; it was my cursed, infatuated heart. I was unable to break my gaze away from her and she soon captured those stolen glances with long fluttering eyelashes over big cow-like eyes. She had me with that look and everything after that was sunny skies and alfalfa sprouts- life was good!
When she told me she was pregnant I was so overjoyed that I believed my chest would just burst. So surely you can imagine my shame, disgust, and hurt when Lena, surrounded by the entire herd, gave birth to an alpaca half-breed. She tried to say it was just a runt and that the little cria was mine. She wasn’t pulling the wool over my eyes though; those pointy ears and that hairy little face was telling a much more scandalous story!
“I don’t need your baby llama drama!”, I told her. “This llama is going back to Wisconsin where the only worries I’ll have is being made to stand six hours in a covered corral for a silly 4-H Best of Showmanship award!”
So that was that and now Henry is every bit as determined to make it back home as I am. Aside from my constant hunger pangs, I’d say we both were faring pretty good under the current circumstances. After a recent dinner ordeal involving poisonous berries and glow-in-the-dark grub worms, I’ve resolved to mimic Henry’s diet regiment by sticking to lichens, tree foliage, and native shrubs.
Eating like a llama really isn’t all that bad; although I still haven’t quite mastered that whole cud regurgitating technique. It’s amazing how much a person takes food for granted until they’re reduced to eating flower petals and mysterious prairie biscuits. Oh, how I would give my left arm right now for just a handful of honey-roasted peanuts ! Truth be told, it was those honey-roasted peanuts I found in the abandoned missionary’s camp that proved to be the real life-saver. How did honey-roasted peanuts save my life, you ask? Well, it wasn’t from starvation if that’s what you’re thinking. I had a much more sinister demise awaiting me.
If you recall from the last letter I sent, that witch doctor, Cocobo, seemed to become more hospitable the longer I sat dangling in that smelly cage. When he informed me that I was to be his guest-of-honor in a barbecue being thrown for the Imajaeatcha people, I just knew things were definitely looking up for me. Well, I waited and waited in that cage while they incessantly beat their drums and danced around…beating and dancing… beating and dancing…
Yeah, I knew it was rude to spoil my appetite just before a dinner invitation but I was getting really hungry and those two packs of honey-roasted peanuts were still stowed safely away in my pocket for just this sort of occasion. I hadn’t popped but a few handfuls of them into my mouth when I noticed the Imajaeatcha people heading my way. At the head of these two advancing columns was the witch doctor, Cocobo. He was clutching a knotted staff in his right hand; its head smartly adorned with a miserable, shrunken head. As he marched, Cocobo swung the curious staff wildly into the air; keeping tempo with the beat while leading his ghastly jungle parade straight towards my cage.
Not certain how long it would take to prepare the food, and still feeling rather famished, I quickly jammed any remaining peanuts into my mouth before the natives reached the vicinity of my cage. It wasn’t but a second later, I was being swiftly lowered to the ground through a rudimentary system of ropes and pulleys.
Once grounded, Cocobo unlatched my cage and quizzically examined the fullness of my face. “Ya’ eating something?”, the witch doctor asked.
I fibbed by shaking my head no. The Imajaeatcha people silenced their drumming, lowered spears, and curiously leaned in towards my cage to gather a whiff.
“You most certainly are eating something”, Cocobo replied. “Open your mouth!”
There was no use trying to hide it at this point, I had been caught.
“It was just a handful of peanuts”, I confessed, “but by no means did I spoil my appetite.”
“What was that?” the witch doctor inquired.
I leaned down and picked up one of the small empty packets lying on the cage floor and held it up for all to see. “It was just a small pack… Just a small pack of honey-roasted peanuts.”At the mere mention of “peanuts”, all of the Imajaeatcha people let out a shriek and took a sudden step back from my cage.
Now there’s a certain fact concerning the Imajaeatcha people that’s not widely known outside their inner circle. The Imajaeatcha people are deathly allergic to peanuts and they always have been. The Spanish learned of this in the 1500’s but that knowledge was long ago carried with them back to Spain. The monkey king, Cheechee, knew of this as well but was bound to total secrecy.
The sinister witch doctor, Cocobo, who’s lived for years amongst the Imajaeatcha people, truly had no idea they all suffered from peanut allergies. Nevertheless, when the Imajaeatchas discovered I’d been eating the noxious nuts, they instantly became convinced that the witch doctor had devised this elaborate plot to kill them. Perhaps Cocobo’s long history of failed potions and bitter medicines had eroded any trust that once existed between him and the Imajaeatcha people. Perhaps none ever really existed at all. Regardless, the Imajaeatchas were certain my invitation to supper was all but a sinister scheme to serve up some badly tainted food.
I guess I should’ve felt angrier upon learning I was to be the main course at the Imajaeatchas’ barbecue, but I couldn’t help but to feel sorry for that bony little nose-ringed fellow. Oh, Cocobo tried everything in his power to reason with them.
“How would I even know you were all allergic to peanuts when I’ve seen you eat everything else under the sun including everybody we’ve ever met?”
He tried desperately to plead his case.
“Please don’t eat me! Where will you find another witch doctor who can do as good a job witch-doctoring as me?”
I thought Cocobo brought some valid points to the table, but I guess those natives weren’t all that impressed. In the end, the Imajaeatcha people passed on the Wisconsin bred, all-white-meat barbeque. I can’t say they made the tastiest decision, but I didn’t dare argue that point. As it turned out, they had a hankering for more of a localized dish; something resembling a gamey Peruvian dark-meat stew.
In closing, give my regards to Linda. I’m certain my next letter will be written from a safer place, far removed from the nasty jungles of Peru.
Thank you for reading my article and I hope you visit my site again real soon. Feel free to explore other areas of my blog, post a comment, and show some love on social media.
Posted in South America, Tall Tales and Big Fish Stories and tagged llama, Machu Picchu, peru by Big John with no comments yet.
Dear Mr. Morino,
It’s been several weeks since I sent that first letter and I’m starting to believe I’ll never make it out of Peru . The majority of those ill-fated days that have since passed, I’ve spent here in agonizing captivity. As I sit, suspended high above the jungle floor, I can’t help but assign blame to the man responsible for all of this… Senor-Juan-Know-It-All-Espinoza! Even now, locked away in a lofty bamboo cage, I can scarcely bear to speak his name. In my absence, please tell Linda not to allow Juan to touch any of my trade tools; especially not my hand shears or my Heiniger shearing kit. If I ever make it out of Peru, and I’m restored to my rightful position at Shear and Shave Llama Service, I will ensure Juan Espinoza never shaves another LLama again… so help me God!
Now concerning the details surrounding my captivity, it seems they finally got me, Mr. Morino. Those heinous monkeys got me just like I said they would. The entire harrowing event unfolded not long after my missionary friend returned from the Ucayali region. At first I just thought he was upset because he found me sleeping in his tent again. I tried to calm him down. I even showed him that I hadn’t left anymore crackers in his sleeping bag. But then he said things were much more serious than that. He said he would be breaking camp immediately and that if I had any sense I would find a way out myself. The missionary stated to me that his trip to convert the natives had been cut short. He said things were no longer safe and there were rumors afoot in the jungle….dark rumors.
The monkeys were coming, he said. They were coming for me and any other outlandish soul who dared to remain in this jungle region of Peru for even one more day. According to rumors, the monkey king Cheechee had formed an alliance with Cocobo, the sinister witch doctor of the Imajaeatcha people. They were planning something devious, details not forthcoming; but the entire plan was sold to the monkey king for five jugs of 90 proof jungle punch.
I begged the missionary to take me with him. I pleaded with him to get me out of this bedeviled place. Still, he refused to let me tag along. He told me he was flying out of Peru in a 2-seater Cessna 177 and that the pilot wouldn’t want me sitting on his lap the entire way. Before he left, he offered me some sound advice. He said don’t wait for the monkeys to come and find you. Go to them. Extend your arm in a gesture of peace. Offer them some kind of gift…anything to serve as a token of your friendship.
Just as soon as my missionary friend had gathered his essentials and bugged out, I scoured the grounds of his primitive campsite. I needed a gift for the monkeys; something they would truly enjoy. As luck would have it, fate was smiling upon me that day. The missionary had left a Styrofoam cooler wedged into some rocks down at the stream. You wouldn’t believe what I found inside!
Much to my wonderment… much to my surprise, I discovered a 12-count unopened box of banana popsicles! There is not a single monkey in all the jungles of Peru that wouldn’t sell his own sister for just one banana popsicle. I was quite confident that me and these monkeys could now come to some sort of amicable agreement.
When I started out on that one-hour journey to the monkey encampment, everything seemed to be going just fine. Sure it was a bit warm outside, but I was pretty much acclimatized to the subtropical conditions by this point. I was still about fifty yards out when the clan of them came swooping down from the trees and encircled me. The monkeys growled and bared jagged sets of menacing teeth. They danced circles around me, hooting and hollering; all the while beating their fists upon their brawny chests. I just knew I was done for. I just knew that my journey had come to a grievous end. My entire life began flashing before my very eyes. Then I thought of Henry. I thought of him plodding down the mountain and stumbling upon my meager remains. I thought of my home back in Wisconsin and my job at the Shear and Shave Llama Service; and then…and then I thought of Senor-Juan-Know-It-All-Espinoza. If I were to be torn apart by these vile monkeys, then Juan would certainly be the first to lay claim to my hand shears and my Heiniger shearing kit. I had to survive!
Dropping to my knees, I placed my left hand over my eyes and threw my right one into the air.
“Banana popsicle!”, I screamed. “Who wants a banana popsicle?!”
In an instant, everything became eerily quiet. Warily, gingerly, I slid trembling fingers down the contours of my face and surveyed the scene that lay before me. King Cheechee had pushed his way through the crowd of primates and was now towering over me; his face appearing oddly expressionless. He examined the box I was holding, struck a quizzical pose, and then snatched the thing right out of my hand.
It’s the strangest thing to see a monkey smile; even stranger to see one smiling in the Peruvian jungle while holding a box of 12-count banana popsicles. At any rate, I was very relieved to see that the gift I brought was much appreciated.
Perhaps, had the fierce rays of the sun not pierced through the trees to such an extent; perhaps, had the trip to the see the monkeys not taken quite as long; perhaps, if my life wasn’t such a long drawn-out series of unfortunate events, then I might have ended this letter with much happier news to report. I can say though that what happened next taught me a very valuable lesson about monkeys. They get extremely angry when they reach into a 12-count box of banana popsicles and come out holding just a bunch of sticks!
After being set upon, beaten unmercifully, and violated in every unspeakable means imaginable, I awoke to find myself perched high up in this cage. For the most part, the time spent in this cage thus far has been free of any further abuse or molestation. Queen Patootie periodically climbs into my cage to pick nits out of my hair with her teeth; but those sort of things around here are really quite expected. I’ve also observed that Cocobo has been coming around a lot more in recent days. Surprisingly the witch doctor has a rather pleasant demeanor. He even allowed me to write this letter. The most unexpected news is that his people are throwing a barbecue tonight and I’m to be the guest of honor! I told Cocobo I hope they weren’t planning on serving piranha because I don’t eat fish.
Well, I had better end this letter for now. There’s a lot of drum beating that’s just kicked up below and I think they’re heading my way. Please attempt to track down that missionary, get my location, and send a rescue party my way. When help comes… if they actually find me here, make certain they’re carrying with them a lot of banana popsicles. Those sweet and sticky treats are the only thing that will save a person trapped in the tangles jungles of Peru.
PS. Once more, please express to Linda how sorry I am for shaving her head. In all honesty, it’s probably a much better look for her. She always seemed to have this weird frizzy thing going on with her bangs.
Thank you for reading this tragic story to its completion. Please visit my site again soon to hear the rest of the story. In the meantime, feel free to explore other areas of my blog, post a comment, and share some love on social media.
Posted in South America, Tall Tales and Big Fish Stories and tagged peru by Big John with 4 comments.
Dear Mr. Morino,
I know you’re probably not going to give me my job back and that’s totally cool. Although, if you were to offer it back I would graciously accept it – and that’s cool too. I was hoping that, if you weren’t still angry about things, you could ask the Wisconsin State Police to drop any charges you have pending against me. I really need to get out of Peru and find my way back home!
Henry is doing fine so don’t go worrying about him. He seems much happier here, being back in his own country and all. I knew he would be happier here and that’s why I took him in the first place. He’s actually found love way up on the Huayna Picchu mountain! It’s so wonderful! I have a picture of the two of them together that would really melt your heart.
Actually, I’ll enclose that picture of Henry with this letter so you can show it to Linda. I figure that if she can also see just how happy Henry is here, she might just let bygones be bygones. On second thought, I had better keep the photograph. He doesn’t come down from the mountain anymore so this picture is basically all I have left of him.
Although Henry is doing quite well in Peru, I’m just not cutting it out here, Mr. Morino. I cry nearly all of the time! It’s much rainier in the jungle than what I expected and my missionary friend stopped allowing me to share his tent. Even worse, the monkeys have grown weary of me eating all their bananas. They’ve begun forming an actual monkey army; and I can tell by how quiet and secretive they get around me now that they mean to attack!
If you and Linda could somehow find it in your heart to forgive me, and then send me a plane ticket… well, I would be eternally grateful! Oh yeah, about your truck and trailer. I had no idea that river was going to be that fast and that deep! From the embankment, the crossing of it didn’t seem all that complicated. But don’t you think I didn’t do my best, Mr. Morino! You can ask anybody that knows anything about rivers in Peru, when that current takes you, and you attempt to manuever a truck and horse trailer off of a hundred-foot waterfall, there ain’t going to be nothing a person can do but swim out the wreckage.
Going back to that day I took Henry, I never meant for any of it to go down the way it did. First off, it wasn’t an animal abduction, it was a full-fledged animal rescue. That’s God’s honest truth! Now, I can’t lie to you and say your wife deserved all of what happened to her either, but we both did things we probably came to regret. Ever since that first day I came to work at Shear and Shave Llama Service, you and Linda were like family to me. I knew nothing about the business, but y’all poured your hearts and souls into my training and it showed! The day you promoted me from trim-wool technician to a full-fledged de-fleecer…that was the proudest day of my life – bar none!
But the day that Linda hired on Senor Juan-Know-It-All-Espinoza, everything went downhill from there. Linda said he naturally outranked me because he was from South America and that’s just not right. She’s stereotyping! To say just because somebody’s Peruvian, that they automatically know everything there is to know about the finer points of llama grooming… well, that’s plain ludicrous! Yet, I didn’t grumble. I never complained. I just went about my daily grind shaving those llamas to show-room condition. Oh, they would laugh at me and tease; but those techniques I use with the coddling and whispering really puts the animal at ease.
The daily taunting was relentless but I just bottled it all up inside. Like the devoted Sheer and Shave employee that I am, I just went about my business day after day and tried to pay it no mind. Unfortunately, there was a real rage brewing inside of me that even I could not contain. And then finally it happened, I just completely blew my top!
I was in the barn sculpting Henry’s backside with some hand shears when Linda asked me if I was trying to win myself a date. I reminded her that a good trim with hand sheers should take no less than twenty minutes, or the llama will walk away from the experience feeling cheapened. You taught me that one, Mr. Morales. It’s basic Llama Grooming 101! Juan then begins braggin’ about how he could do the job with a pair of electric clippers in less than five, and have the llama looking better and feeling far more satisfied! I argued with him then, I did because he had assaulted my honor. I told him that such a task in less than five minutes was impossible; furthermore, he wasn’t fooling anybody because I had seen his work. It was but second-rate sheep-shearing he did and he had always failed to shave completely down to the hocks.
So then Juan starts getting all boisterous and loud. He tells me he was going to show me a thing or two about his skills with a llama. I told him that he wasn’t touching Henry with a pair of electric clippers, and if he wanted something big to shave then Linda was standing right behind him. When I said that, Linda got all fired up and she snatched the clippers straight off of the sheering post.
I told them to back away from Henry because he was really starting to tense up. They wouldn’t listen and just kept coming my way. It was at that very moment I completely lost it! It was like my brain switched to autopilot and all I could see was red! When I finally came back to my senses, Juan and Linda were left naked, shaved, and duct-taped to the post just as you found them. As for me and Henry, well we were already well on our way to Peru!
Picture of Henry in Peru
Anyway, I have get this letter to that missionary so he can get it in his mailbag before tomorrow. First thing in the morning, he’ll be off trying to make converts out of a bunch of cannibals. Don’t know if he’ll be returning back this way anytime in the near future. Think about what I wrote you and how most of it can be chalked up to a huge misunderstanding. I’m sure you can see things a lot clearer now that you’ve read my side of the story.
PS. Give my regards to Linda and tell her not to worry about her hair. It will all grow back, and if it doesn’t she probably looks better that way.
Posted in South America, Tall Tales and Big Fish Stories and tagged peru by Big John with 2 comments.