Friday, January 27, 2012

Day Two-Hundred-Forty-Five, Sugar, Sugar

When I woke up my tent was full of mosquitos, hundreds and hundreds of them.  There were thousands more outside waiting their turn to climb through the holes in my screen.  Of which there are some; it has been a long walk.  There are no gashes or tears.  Just a few little chinks, here and there, none bigger than a mosquito.

But they found them and told their friends.  Their friends must have told complete strangers.  I pulled my shirt over my mouth to breathe to keep from sucking them in.  They sang in my ears; they coated my arms; they layed their eggs in my beard.  I slaughtered countless dozens of them, but still they kept coming.

I suffered any number of bites.  I could see who the culprits were.  They left a splatters of my own blood when I squished them dead.  My tent now looks like a crime scene.  The police suspect Jackson Pollock.

They were helpful in waking me up.  I was awake by five.  But I dared not go outside.  It was dark and there were frogs out there.  Great hideous things, or so I believe.  I never actually saw one.  But I could hear them hopping about.  I could hesr them growling at me.  One has to assume there were gators as well.  I waited two hours for sunrise.

It was all in all an awful night.  I had a short walk into town.  And high hopes cor a proper breakfast.  I wound up at Subway.  That's about all you'll find in South Bay, Florida.  I was there until nine-thirty.

Coaxing some charge into my little computer.  I had a sandwich and cookies.  And another sandwich to go.  And more cookies at a convenience store.  And a gallon of water and Gatorade.  My pack was unspeakably heavy.

But lighter than it might have been.  I've shed my wooly socks.  And my thermal underwear.  All of it went to Goodwill.  I'm not sure how pleased they'll be.  But years from now the James Museum's acquisitions committee will pay thousands to get it all back.

"His actual long johns! Ooh, ahh.  Were those stains always there?"

It was threatening rain when I finally left.  It speaks well of me that I did.  Fifty miles in the rain with a tired old pack. A long bleak gatory crossing.  With blisters on both feet and the start of a rash.  A lesser man would have hung back.  Or one with more money.  I just don't have the funds to enjoy an indoor life.

I walked twenty-six miles today.  I needed every one of them.  I beat the rain south but I was walking into a stiff headwind.  Past miles and miles of cane fields, owned by the Domino company.  Which is owned by the Fanjul Brothers.  They employ slave labor.  And are doing very well for themselves.  The meek don't inherit shit.

I haven't quite figured how sugar is grown.  I know they burn the fields.  The EPA must have grandfathered that in.  It makes an awful mess.  Huge billowing clouds and unpleasant fumes.  Ashes rain from the sky.  Then the gather up the debris and truck it to a factory, where they grind it up, add 11 secret herbs and spices, and, I think, truck it back to the fields and spread it around.

But I'm not sure.  All morning I watched trucks moving back and forth, back and forth like ants.  A thousand of them, from fields to factory, from factory to fields and back.  Bumper to bumper for miles and miles.  It all seemed sinister.  While the fields burned and the ash rained down.  There were workers on old school buses.  Painted white.  They were brown people.  I hope they are being well paid.

I think too we subsidise sugar.  It has something to do with sticking it to Castro.  And with the kind of influence a few billion dollars will buy.  I'm thinking of boycotting it altogether.  I hear high-fructose corn syrup is good.

The cane fields gave way to a sawgrass swamp.  I think it's where Miami gets their water.  It's all fenced off and beyond a canal.  This is I guess the Everglades but not quite what I thought.  I expected cyprus swamps and mangrove forests.  This mes of sawgrass marshes.  Wet though, and with plenty of gators, though I didn't see any today.

Lots of black snakes, five or six feet long and all very much alive.  They move fast and don't very much like me.  They shoot away as I approach, at least the ones I saw did.  The braver ones may have held their ground and waited for me to pass.

Vile detestable creatures.

Find me now on the edge of a swampy lake in what I think is a wildlife preserve.  It is pretty but not where I want to camp.  I couldn't find anywhere for my tent.  I hear crickets and frogs and fifty kinds of birds, not one among them shy.  This is what they call a rich ecosystem.  Nature is a noisy place.

I've got plenty of food but I'm low on water.  Civilisation is twenty miles off.  I think there's an airboat camp 13 miles up.  There'd better be or I'll die of thirst.  Water, water everywhere, &c.

It is almost certain to rain tomorrow.  They promise lightning too.  Poop.

AN INQUISITIVE child was charmed by my hat.  "Are you a crossing guard?"  No, I told her, I am a walker.  She lost interest almost at once.  And turned on her mother.  "Mommy," she asked.  "When are you and Daddy going to get married?"

A MAN told me gators often eat dogs.  "Swallow them whole," he said.  I like dogs, I told him sadly.  "So do gators," he said.

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  1. It seems you've saved the roughest part for last. Who would have thought Florida, the land of sunshine and tourists, could be so arduous. Stay strong, seeing as how you have only just now figured out how to do it. (Kidding)

    Dennis and Ronne