‘The treasure which you think not worth taking trouble
and pains to find, this one alone is the real treasure you
are longing for all your life. The glittering treasure you
are hunting for day and night lies buried on the other side
of that hill yonder.’
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
There the three of us were, Mike Boston, Dan Hughes his brawny tattooed-shouldered Irish buddy, and me, deep in the Costa Rican rainforest wilds of the Osa de Peninsula. Setting forth on foot, along the Rio de Oro--or the River of Gold. Seeking out Alvaro.
And that I should have found myself on such a bright and shining morning off on such a momentous if not perilous trek? Reeling through the dense tropical growth dripping with sweat, the burning hot sun blazing down--okay, okay, so the growth wasn’t that dense, nor the sun quite that burning and hot, I was still reeling and dripping. All owing to those vile, dreadful “agua de sapos”—those innocuous-appearing concoctions of guaro, a cheap native drink distilled from fermented sugarcane, and water, or what’s loosely translated in English as ‘juice of the toad,’ that Mike Boston had plied me with the night before. And me at my three score and ten, arthritic and my pain pills on the ready, one knee cap popping and both knees rubbery before the day’s end. So who was I to blame for being where I was? How did this all come about?
Well, perhaps I could put it all upon Dorothy MacKinnon, the charming, vivacious expatriate reporter with the Tico Times whom previously I’d had lunch with in San Jose at the fashionable Café Mundo. After all, wasn’t she the one who first told me that if I ever got myself to the Osa de Peninsula and the remote jungle town of Puerto Jimenez I had to look up this crazy wild Irish guide by the name of Mike Boston. Oh yes, she had insisted—she had been adamant! Yes, Mike Boston, who wrestled snakes and swam with crocodiles! Mike Boston the Cocodrilo Dundee de Costa Rica! And what’s more, she had enthused, he even looked like Paul Hogan. What’s more, when he spoke, having lived seven years in Scotland, he sounded like Sean Connery!
Ah, but it all went back further, much further than Dorothy MacKinnon. To be precise, it all went back to when I was a boy and first saw the movie The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Directed by John Huston and starring Humphrey Bogart, Tim Holt, and Walter Huston as three down-and-out gringos in Tampico, Mexico who go prospecting for gold in the mountains of the Sierra Madre, it remains one of the landmark movies of my life. Left an indelible imprint seared across my brain. And then if that wasn’t enough, then I read the book upon which the movie was based. And that did it. After that there was no going back. I was hooked then and there for good. And if it wasn’t being afflicted per se with the fever for gold, it was something akin to it. And much of that, of course, had to do with the book’s author, B. Traven.
Ah yes, B. Traven, who would have loved Alvaro. They would have been kindred souls. And who knows? Theoretically, it’s not impossible that Alvaro could be B. Traven’s lost son. Or if not a biological son, certainly he’d qualify as a spiritual one. But then who is B. Traven? And who is Alvaro? Well, it seems I’ve gotten ahead of myself here, I’ll try to explain.
To this day, B. Traven is still the great mystery figure of twentieth century literature. Most likely born in Germany, some claimed he was the bastard son of Kaiser Wilhelm II. Others speculated that Jack London faked his suicide death in 1916, then, instead of going back to the Klondike again, disappeared into the jungles of Chiapas in Mexico to reappear as B. Traven. But what’s more likely is that B. Traven was the pen name for Ret Maurut, a journalist and anarchist revolutionary who was forced to flee Germany at the outset of World War I.
And so what about Alvaro? Well, this much I know about him through Mike Boston. Born in Hamburg, Germany, his father a German gypsy, his mother a Tica woman, Alvaro had to flee his native land because of the Nazis and World War II. He then shipped out in the merchant marine and traveled the seven seas (much like B. Traven who, based on his novel The Death Ship, apparently did the same). Affluent in several languages, he’d knocked about this place and that, worked construction, driven heavy equipment, before eventually wandering into what was until recent years Costa Rica’s wild west frontier, the Osa de Peninsula.
Once a week Alvaro hikes from his gold camp into Carate for provisions. That was how I happened to meet him the previous fall. At that time I was about to go into the Corcovado Park with Mike Boston and several others. Early morning, we’re seated in the back of the Toyota collectivo, about to leave town. And I still vividly remember my first impression of him. This man striding purposefully across the street with his fifty-pound pack, then springing aboard the back of the collectivo to join us. Alvaro—bare-chested and swarthy, with his coal black hair, bristly black eyebrows, his powerful arms and legs (“Alvaro has muscles in his arms like Popeye,” Mike liked to say).
And I remember that I stared at him in wonder. This man, Alvaro—or according to Mike, anyway—was 68-years old! And I didn’t know if I could believe that or not. I mean me with my balding dome and silvery-white hair—yet if that was true, the two of us were almost the same age. And I didn’t know whether to take heart from that or be utterly dismayed. Perhaps it wasn’t just the gold that had brought him to the Osa—had this man stumbled upon the Fountain of Youth?
In any event, it was on that occasion that Alvaro invited us to his gold camp. Which was why six months later I found myself with Mike and his Irish buddy Dan who’d come to visit him from County Tyrone riding once more in the back of that same crowded Toyota colectivo taxi. Bouncing over that same rough and deep-rutted road. On our way to where it comes to the Rio de Oro.
Biologists have compared the rainforest of the Osa Peninsula to that of the Amazon basin in Brazil; and had I been expecting the Rio de Oro to be a big swollen river of Amazonian proportions, I would have been sorely disappointed. When the three of us disembarked from the collectivo where it stopped for us on its way to Carate, there wasn’t even a trickle in the river’s bed. What little water still remained in the river at this point had sunk into the ground beneath the road. Then when we’d hiked a short ways we came to the river—which on this day was no more than a small narrow ankle-deep stream.
Mike wielding his machete, the three of us proceeded single-file along its banks, trying to find some semblance of a trail. With me struggling to keep up, we splashed through the stream, hopping over rocks and logs, the lush dense rainforest looming up all around us. The riverbed was overgrown with second growth; and I tried to imagine this stream during the rainy season when it came roaring and surging over its banks, a torrent of wild water washing rocks, boulders, and fallen trees before it. I wondered, too, as I glanced about at the trees and vegetation that were—in my eyes, anyway—so similar to what I’d seen in the Corcovado Park, at the seeming absence of birds and wildlife. Where were the troops of golden-mantled howler monkeys, the bands of spider monkeys and white-faced capuchins, the parrots, toucans, and scarlet macaws, the pacas and agoutis? Perhaps not being protected here, birds and animals made that much more of an effort to conceal themselves—or perhaps being so much closer to the road and civilization, all the wildlife had simply been killed off.
Or perhaps it was because I wasn’t as intent as I might have been about keeping an eye out for what I might see because I was discovering how much I wasn’t in shape for this. Especially coming off those agua de sapos from the night before. It was then I noticed the trail beneath my feet moving with green leaves. I stopped in my tracks. There was a whole procession of green leaves on the march, before me and behind. And with not the faintest hint of a breeze. Was Mike’s drink of choice not only an intoxicant but a hallucinogen? Did it contain extracts from some toxic species of indigenous toad? Or did it have properties comparable to Amazonian ayahausca? Was I now experiencing some kind of drug-induced flashback?
But then, coming to my senses, I realized that all those green leaves were moving because they were being borne by a colony of leaf-cutter ants. Still, when we stopped for a break, I couldn’t resist stealing a glance at Dan. If the tattoos on his arms and shoulders suddenly began to dance—if that tattooed eagle began flapping its wings, then I’d know I was in trouble.
And perhaps it was a matter of feeling my years. After all, what was I doing trying to keep up with these guys? Mike in his early 50s and Dan in his late 40s—they were but young whippersnappers compared to an old codger like myself. And of course what I feared the most was that I’d find myself holding them up, falling behind.
And so what kept me going? Besides of course the shame and ignominy of having to cry out, “Boys, I’m played out--I can’t go it. You’re gonna have to push on without me.”
Well, it could have been—parched and thirsty as I was—seeing Mike all at once drop to his hands and knees and drink from one of those tiny spring-fed trickles that we kept coming upon. Then Dan was doing the same. And here I’d been so careful and cautious all my times in Costa Rica about always boiling the water when I couldn’t get it bottled.
“Go ahead, Burns,” Mike cried, looking up at me. “You can drink it. The water’s perfectly potable!”
Then I, too, was on my hands and knees drinking the water as it seeped through the rocks, oozed up from the ground. And I marveled that such a place was still to be found in this defiled and fallen world. Where the water was so cool and pure, and that you could drink it in such fashion--that it was “perfectly potable.” Well, there couldn’t be any throwing in the towel now.
Shortly after that Mike came upon the tracks of a puma and I knew then we were in Alvaro’s domain.
As for our first sighting of Alvaro himself? Well, there’d been no way Mike could call or wire ahead to let him know we were on our way. Instead, he’d taken it for granted we’d come upon him just as we did—in the river prospecting for gold.
Cigarette dangling from his mouth, he was donned in his prospector’s garb, bandana around his head, scarlet red tee shirt, long red-banded baggy black shorts, and high rubber boots. That along with his coal black hair and those bushy black eyebrows, Alvaro seemed indeed like some rare exotic inhabitant of the jungle, perhaps the last of his kind. What’s more, for all that he may have once driven bulldozers and cranes, it appeared that he hunted for gold using only the most basic of tools—two handheld wooden sluice boxes and a frying pan, along with a pickax and shovel, and a short-handled sledge. And of course his machete.
Upon seeing us, Alvaro climbed up the bank to exchange greetings with Mike. Then he went back to finishing up what he’d been doing. We stood above and watched as he picked up rocks and moved them to dam up the one side of the stream. Dan shook his head in disbelief at the size of the rocks Alvaro was hoisting about. Mike then described how there had once been this huge boulder in the riverbed not far from where we stood. On an earlier visit to Alvaro’s camp he’d had a picture taken of himself and a companion standing together on top of the boulder. Then the next time he came back, the boulder was gone. It seemed that Alvaro, having decided that there might be deposits of gold under the boulder, had spent every day for five weeks with his pickax and sledge, hammering and pounding away at it until he had reduced it to a pile of rubble.
Upon completing his task at hand, Alvaro climbed back to where we were with his gold pan. Then he began swishing the water in it so that we could see for ourselves the bright gleaming tiny flecks of gold—gold, he said, that was of the finest quality found anywhere in the world. Afterwards he led us upstream to his camp that was set back in the trees some thirty or forty feet from the river. The first thing I noticed was the sheet of green plastic covering the A-shaped pole-lined roof of what served as Alvaro’s home in the rainforest. The roof was mounted on vertical poles above an elevated bunk bed enclosed with mosquito netting, and a wood-burning stove. In front of his camp a stream of spring-fed water flowed forth from a plastic pipe. Next to it was a wash board propped up on a couple of boulders. Nearby, there was a clothesline, along with a small garden of yucca and hot green peppers.
After he’d started a fire in his stove to make a pot of coffee, Alvaro brought out some homemade banana bread for us, along with slices of cheese. Then he started frying up some eggs. I wandered about the camp, trying to take everything in. But the heat and sun broken up by the intermittent light rains, the river and the sounds of birds in the canopy of trees overhead, the riotous green foliage—I was feeling overwhelmed, it was too much for me, and the time we were there, it was all too brief.
And I remember Alvaro telling us about the tall plant near his camp with the lovely big pink red flowers. Referring to it as the reyna de noche, or queen of the night, he said it was a member of the nightshade family, and that heating up the leaves of the plant was a way of making headaches go away. But if you drank the tea from the plant—“My God, you are gone for two days! It is like LSD! No, no, I would never do that! It is muy peligroso, too dangerous!”
Brandishing his machete for emphasis, he suddenly gave me this close look. “Ah, I remember you now! Donde estan las dos mujeres? The two women? Remember? You promised me! Where are they?”
I promised what? What was he talking about? Then I remembered what I’d altogether forgotten from when we’d first met and were riding together in the back of the collectivo. After he’d invited Mike and me to visit him in his camp I’d asked what I might bring. And he had said “dos mujeres!” And I had promised him faithfully. I would not show up empty-handed. Yes, when I arrived, I would have with me--two women!
Oh boy, what was I to say or do now? He was probably going to write me off as one of those guys who talks big but fails to deliver. Then I had a thought. Quickly I began digging through my backpack, remembering what I had volunteered to carry in it. “Alvaro, if not dos mujeres, would you settle for this?” I asked, offering him the two pint bottles of cheap guaro that Mike had bought in Puerto Jimenez before we left.
“Por supuesto—but of course,” Alvaro grinned, accepting them. “This is almost as good.” He uncapped one of the bottles and helped himself. “Salud!” This he would drink, if not the tea from the queen of the night.
Mike, Dan, and me settling for coffee, we sat on logs and listened while Alvaro talked about what cures and remedies could be obtained from certain of the local plants. He talked about how this plant was good for malaria and that one for diarrhea, this one for snakebite and that one if a woman wanted to have an abortion. Then he started talking about some secret native remedy that he claimed was a surefire cure for male impotence. “Mejor entonces viagra! Such effects this will have upon you! You will be muy fuerte! You will be ready to screw a tree!”
But as to what that cure was, which you’d wash down with “a glass of good dry wine”-- that I can’t divulge—I’ve been sworn to secrecy. Besides, at that very moment when he was naming certain of the cure’s most essential ingredients and how they had to be prepared, his voice was drowned out by the strident squawking of scarlet macaws flying overhead and the unearthly frightful roar made by a troop of howler monkeys in the forest.
Of course hearing those sounds only served to remind me how much this was all part of his domain. But Alvaro didn’t see it that way.
“I am only here as a guest,” he told us.
He pointed up to the yellow plastic baggy covering the clump of bananas hanging from one of the poles of his roof. He’d put the baggy over the bananas thinking it would hide them from the monkeys. But of course it didn’t work. “No,” he shrugged indifferently, “every day the monkeys come and steal my bananas. But that is no problem. There is plenty for everybody and I can always get more.”
Alvaro professed to have no desire to kill anything—except perhaps for the occasional fer-de-lance or bushmaster he discovered crawling around in his camp. As for the other denizens of the rainforest, the way he viewed it, for all that he had lived here for over a year—this was their home.
Now in saying this, I don’t want to make Alvaro sound like some wooly-headed, sweet-souled St. Francis of the Osa. He had an edge to him, and I had the distinct sense that he was somebody not to be trifled with. I acquired that sense most of all when he started talking about the problems he’d had with being a landowner. Years before he’d had a piece of land on the Caribbean coast, in Limon. But his problem was he was always having to contend with squatters moving in on his land, promising him they’d buy it, but always cheating him and lying to him. He remembered how he’d tried to evict one squatter who attacked him with his machete, slicing his face and one of his arms.
“If I had had my gun with me, I would have killed him,” Alvaro said, his eyes flashing.
Eventually, he’d gotten rid of his piece of land in Limon. But since then he’d still been having the same problem with squatters over the piece of land he owned in Pavones. There’d been one squatter there who kept promising to pay him for his land but he never did. Finally Alvaro had given the squatter a twenty-four hour ultimatum. “’Pay me or get off my land,’ I told him.” He turned from Mike to Dan and me. “You must understand me. I don’t care who these people are. I don’t care if they are gringos or Ticos or Germans. If I put a bullet in them, they will all puncture the same.”
Turning back to Mike, Alvaro told him that he wanted no more of the grief and hassle that went with being a landowner. He said he would give him a commission if he could find a buyer for his piece of land in Pavones. He said he didn’t care how much the land was now worth, he just wanted to get rid of it. Mike said he’d be glad to help him but that he couldn’t accept the commission he was offering him, that it was too much. No, no, Alvaro said, it would be more than worth it to him if he could help him in this matter.
Listening to him, it sounded like Alvaro was trying to strip himself of all his material possessions. He talked about how he had once owned a Triumph Tiger Cub motorcycle, and that he had taken great pleasure in it, but that was years ago. Now he didn’t have any vehicles, nor did he want any. It was the same as with being a landowner—it was much too grief, too much hassle.
Even living as he was now, in his gold camp on the Rio de Oro, there’d been conflicts, he’d had his territorial disputes. For example, there had once been a Cuban gold miner who had a camp not far upstream from his. The Cuban would take what gold he found into Puerto Jimenez, but instead of using it to buy provisions he’d blow it getting drunk. Then, after returning to his camp empty-handed, he started stealing things from Alvaro’s camp. Then he started panning for gold along stretches of the river that Alvaro considered in his territory. Finally Alvaro had warned him. “Hombre, you are in my work! Clear out or else! I will not tell you again! Vamoose!”
“Vamoose!” he’d said, and the Cuban must have taken him at his word because he was no longer around. Now this isn’t to suggest that Alvaro is some kind of misanthrope and that he doesn’t want anybody coming around. Somebody else has replaced the Cuban, and as far as I know he and Alvaro get along fine. Moreover, I think he likes having the occasional traveler pass through, and, though it might have been because we were with Mike, he couldn’t have been a more gracious host while we were in his camp.
And it’s not as if he’s renounced the world. He has a radio in his camp, and he gets the world news from CNN four times a day. It’s just that he wants to keep the world at a distance. And given what he hears from CNN, he has good reason
“George Bush and Osama bin Laden are offering millions of dollars for each other’s heads,” he cried. He shook his head incredulously. “They are crazy! The world is crazy! It is loco!”
Alvaro hunted for gold nearly every day, and he said he probably averaged a couple of grams of gold dust for every two days’ work. A gram of gold was worth about ten dollars. How many grams of gold and how many days, weeks, months, or years would it take for him to have enough money for the head of bin Laden—or George Bush? Yes, the world was crazy!
But it wasn’t for him to worry about those kinds of things. Alvaro had his work cut out for him. He planned to spend the next five weeks further downstream, moving more rocks and boulders about in order to change the course of the river’s flow. It would be a huge amount of work for what little gold he’d probably find, but you never knew. He said that he’d once found a gold nugget from the Rio Nuevo that weighed ten grams, and that a miner friend of his had once found a nugget that weighed a pound.
Meanwhile, it was mid-afternoon, and time for us to leave. We had to hike back to the road where we had started from, and get there in time to catch the day’s last ride in the colectivo taxi back to Puerto Jimenez. As we were climbing up the ridge above his camp, I looked back. Alvaro, pickax in one hand and sledge in the other, was on his way back to where we had first seen him. His day’s work was not yet done.
And I thought then of the myth of Sisyphus. In Greek mythology, having offended the gods, Sisyphus was eternally condemned to push a boulder up to the top of a mountain. Once there the boulder rolled back down to the bottom of it, whereupon he had to turn right around and push the boulder back up that same mountain again. Had the gods chosen to punish Alvaro in such a way, he would have taken his pickax and sledge and chopped, pounded, and hammered away at that boulder until he had reduced it to a pile of rubble. And it wouldn’t have taken him forever to do it, either. Instead, only five weeks.
All this took place some months ago. I left the Osa de Peninsula shortly after our day with Alvaro, and since then I’ve been back in the United States. Where I have once more immersed myself in the world and world affairs. Mornings I get my daily reports on National Public Radio about current events and the important news of the day. Then at breakfast I pore over the morning newspaper for further reports. Later in the day I go to the town library and check the Internet for further word on what’s happening. Then in the early evening I get the nightly news reports delivered by Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw, and Peter Jennings, along with PBS’s the Jim Lehrer News Hour. And then there’s always the latest from CNN—which of course can be gotten nonstop every hour on the hour, twenty-four hours a day. And there’s Crossfire, and Hardball with Chris Matthews, and later at night, there’s Charlie Rose, along with all the other various cable news shows where I can get still further reports, opinions, and spins on what’s happening out there, including the world’s latest crisis.
Of which there is no end. The world news abounds with horror stories and tales of disaster. Iraq is blowing up, warlords and the Taliban are still warring in Afganistan, and almost daily I get more revelations about the abuses of prisoners in the Abu Ghraid prison. Earlier this summer I heard weather reports of Hurricane Charlie descending upon Florida and at last report infestations of locusts were descending upon the hordes of people in the Darfur region of the Sudan. Where I read that bands of Arab nomads called the janjaweed sing as they descend on horseback upon black villagers, killing the men and raping the women, then poisoning water wells with the bodies of the slain and the slaughtered carcasses of livestock. It is like a vision from the Apocalypse!
Meantime here at home--politically, and culturally, the United States is split in two, a divided nation. On the one hand, Fox TV gives me “Fair and Balanced News” straight from the brain of Karl Rove through the mouth of Bill O’Reilly. On the other hand, those two media bastions of liberalism, the New York Times and the Washington Post, have been offering their mea culpas for being too quick to go along with the Bush-Cheney propaganda machine about Saddam Hussain’s stockpiles of WMDs in Iraq and the need for pre-emptive strikes. The election drawing near, I’m daily bombarded with Bush and Kerry making promises on the campaign trail. George Bush, personification of the ex-frat boy rush chairman who’s since found Jerry Falwell’s Jesus is now proclaiming the benefits to be derived from being part of America’s Great Ownership Society. Meanwhile tall craggy Ichabod Crane-like-John Kerry, for all that he’s reported for duty, is coming across in his agonized dithering more like an ineffectual Boston Brahmin version of Hamlet.
I have before me a recent issue of Time magazine, the face of a jaguar staring at me from the cover. According to the magazine’s feature story, ten years ago there were still thought to be as many as 100,000 lions left in the wild. Now that number has dropped to an estimated 23,000. Twenty-three thousands lions in all of Africa. And, according to the article, there are now only five to seven thousand wild tigers still left. I try to put this statistic in context—give it a frame of reference. When I was a child, the small town I grew up in had a population of seven thousand people. Now, in all of the jungles of the sub-continent of India, the foothills of the Himalayas, and the great frozen expanses of Siberia and the Russian Far East, there are only that many tigers that still survive. I think of Blake’s poem, “The Tyger”—‘When the stars threw down their spears/And water’d heaven with their tears/Did he smile his work to see/Did he who made the Lamb make thee?’
I say those words to myself, and I want to weep.
Ah, but enough! As Roberto Duran once said after he’d taken too many blows, “No mas!” Yes, this defiled and fallen world is too much with me—stop it, I want to get off! After all, man (and woman, too) can only bear so much reality (virtual or otherwise). Yes, I’ve become too much a news junky—I need to kick my habit! I need to turn off the radio and TV, cancel my newspaper subscription, get off the Internet, stop going to libraries—more than anything else, I just want to head for the hills and get away from it all!
However, according to renowned nature writer David Gessner, I may have a problem there. He writes that since 911 there’s no more heading for the hills to get away from it all. Actually, I think that has been true for some time, long before 9ll. The shit going on everywhere else has overtaken the hills as well—as in Corcovado Park—heart of the Osa de Peninsula--where death squad gangs of poachers armed with AK-47s are now systematically wiping out the herds of peccaries, thus bringing the jaguars there that much closer to the edge of extinction.
Nonetheless, the impulse to head for those hills still remains, and even if I know there’s no getting away, I’ve still got to try. Especially knowing that what with my three score and ten, (my) time is running out.
That’s why these past days I’ve started boning up on mi espanol again, making phone calls to travel agents, thumbing through my travel books. And the surest sign that I may be ready to act upon that aforementioned impulse—I’ve found myself of late going through the old books on my shelves looking for what I can find to read by B. Traven.
Which prompts me then to do something I haven’t done for some time. First pulling the shades in my room and locking the door, I pull off the cap of the little black film canister I keep on my desk. I open it and bring out the small wadded-up plastic sack that’s inside it. Then I open that and take out the folded up piece of tinfoil within that’s bound up with a rubber band. I remove the rubber band and peel the folds of tinfoil apart, and there they are—those tiny glittering flecks of gold that I had gotten from Alvaro himself. I shake the tiny flecks into the palm of my hand, stare at them, sift them through my fingers. But I’d thought I had more than this. I’d thought I might have close to a thimble full of gold dust. But it’s much less than that, more like perhaps a couple of pinches worth, or the equivalent of a line of cocaine. Whatever the amount, it’s of the finest quality of gold to be found anywhere in the world. Or at least that was what Alvaro had claimed.
In any event, I keep going back to that day, which has for me now taken on the quality of a dream. But then wasn’t it the German mystic Novalis who once said--Life isn’t a dream, but it should be lived as though it were one?
Then, for whatever inexplicable reasons, I think of these words from a poem by T.S. Eliot: ‘I grow old…I grow old…I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled…’
And now it’s just a matter of making flight reservations, boarding a plane, and getting myself back to Costa Rica. First to San Jose where I’ll have lunch with Dorothy MacKinnon at the Café Mundo and get the latest word from her on the Osa de Peninsula. Then it’s either a fifty-minute plane ride or an eleven-hour bus ride from San Jose to Puerto Jimenez. Once there I’ll go right to the Carolina Restaurante, where I’ll hook up with Mike Boston. That night we’ll have dinner at the same place, or possibly we’ll go to the Guardino II Restaurante, run by Mike’s friends, Julio and Cecelia. Where I expect we will have more than a few agua de sapos. While Mike and I make plans. Then early the next morning, there the two of us will be, off to the River of Gold. Seeking out Alvaro.