Monday, August 15, 2016
Victory of Microbes
In the end, it will be what we call "disease" that will win. I read a story in the N.Y. Times this morning about the comeback of malaria in Venezuela. It is spreading like, well, like a pox. Disease doesn't go away. It just waits. Everything we have ever wiped out comes back. With a vengeance.
The story of malaria wasn't as interesting as the story of financial collapse and the transformation of lives from prosperity to struggle. Wildcat goldmines have popped up all over the jungle, and men who were once office managers and lawyers and druggists have gone to live in shanties and tents lining mud streets, where Chinese grocers trade food to one-time university students turned prostitutes. That is not exactly the facts from the story, in case you read it, but my own extrapolation. I've been in those towns, so I am speaking from a tiny amount of experience. No matter. The crazy turn of fortunes in Venezuela are a cautionary tale for everyone. If you come from the underclass, you can't help but be thrilled by the thought of once arrogant businessmen in thousand dollar suits driving to their million dollar homes in their seventy-thousand dollar Benz' wielding pick axes and a shovels in the slick clay mud trying to put some food on their tables in a town ruled by illiterate gangsters.
For others of us, it is horrifying.
I read this after a nightmarish night highlighted by the pain in my knee and outsized worries about the amount of money and work it takes to maintain this lifestyle. My freshly planted and very tended jasmine bed has been overgrown by exotic weeds, as have my rock driveways. Sections of my lawn have died. The potted garden on the patio has burned up, withered, and died. Vines have entangled the shrubs on all sides of my house. Branches are blown out of my newly trimmed trees. The pain from my knee has spread throughout my body, and the night aches grow larger. I am driven from my bed in the dark.
The car has a new everything. There are new creaks and rattles in everything they've fixed. The car and I are like Miss Emily and her mansion (link). Maybe not. The whole town knew the Griersons. Mine is a much more pathetic tale.
I remember lying in a cheap spring bed in a tiny block of a room fronted by a dirt road in a Peruvian gold town with my own fever and chills, waiting for an airline strike to end so that I could leave that place and return to the mountains. I was alone in a town where men wore guns on their hips, where you bought tins of food from shanty stores, where miners spent their wages on whores and beer, all of us sick with something, one thing or another.
Microbes will win in the end. Those little bastards will outlast all of us. Read this and see (link).