Friday, November 30, 2012

Cartoon 32: Alien Encounter

              From Leticia, Colombia to Pucallpa, Peru, I traveled for about 9 days on a series of boats down the Amazon River.  I think this was the most disgusting experience of my life.  I hope to share my honest experience while being respectful and expressing my deep appreciation for the people who work and consistantly travel on these boats.  They were my famlily for those days which for me, were a real test.  They helped me keep laughing and playing. They shared their stories and experiences and taught me to find an inner calm that I coundn't imagine was possible. 

     But dang ya´ll this ish was narsty. (Translation: Man, this boat was gross!) Not all the boats are like this but the one we 200 strangers were stuffed on one that was built for 100.  
It was soooooo stinky that when I came off of it and got to my destination a week later, my new students asked me why I smelled like dead fish!  The bathroom and the shower were one and the same so all the surfaces were covered in brown wet goo, origin unknown.  Everything was covered in the feathers of the chickens who were dismembered daily on the deck in front of our very eyes and then thrown into a pot to feed us.  We slept in hammocks so close together that swinging had to be a boat-wide coordinated effort.  There was a family that slept under my hammock because their was no other space.  The walls were covered with drying clothes because the women of the boat did laundry and washed their babies daily in the 3 bathroom sinks.  It felt like being trapped inside of a vibrating tuna can because the old old motor made the entire boat shake uncontrolably.  And it was so HOT that I left puddles anywhere I sat down.  I don't mean to be negative, in fact as I write this I'm sitting here laughing at myself, poor little gringa girl who thinks she's hard staring at the ceiling at night completely overwhelmed by the other realities of the world. 

     All that said, I hope that ya'll can feel why the following story is so important to me.  On day three,  a man came up to me as I was taking air on the front deck.  I had just seen a toddler taking a poo in a corner and I sprinted out front to try not to vomit. I think he noticed my upset and he said 'Hey girl, draw a squiggle.', and handed me a piece of paper.  I did and gave him the paper back.  In under a minute the paper was back in my hand again and the man had turned my squiggle into a super funny expressive cartoon character's face. 'Wow!' I said, 'Let me try!' and thats how it all started.  The man was the nightwatchman on the ship.  He spent the dark hours on top of the boat watching out for river pirates.  And from that point on, I spent the first hours of every night at his side. His name was Roman and it turns out that he had always dreamed of being a story teller and cartoonist.  He showed me notebooks filled with characters that he had drawn in the wee hours of the morning while the passengers slept swaying slightly to delicate waves of the Amazon. His favorite character to draw was an alien named Tito.  Every night, he would tell me a different story about what happened when the character that I draw meets Tito.  Below you will find my favorite one... 


  1. so cool! I love reading about your adventures:)

  2. This is one of my favorites so far. Thanks for taking time to share, your cartoons and stories make me smile. Keep on rockin!!!

  3. thank u ben :) always so fabulous to hear from you :)