News that Brazil’s Manaus, a city now 2 million strong in the heart of the Amazon, has the world’s worst coronavirus toll, brought back memories, all bad.
Arriving there half a century ago in the most appalling heat & humidity, the following exchange occurred when checking in to the hotel in those pre-air-conditioning years.
Me: “Where can I have a swim?”
Receptionist: “We have a swimming pool Sir.”
Me: “There’s a bloody 10 ft crocodile in it.”
Receptionist: “Oh yes Sir. It belongs to the owner.”
To much muttering from the receptionist about piranhas I ordered a taxi and headed for the river (Rio Negro) where I lay underwater for a time amidst an alarming array of diverse creatures.
Given the city’s history of failure it always amazed me that Graham Greene never went there as it was vintage ‘Greenland’ territory for a gloomy Latin saga he specialised in writing.
On that note I re-read “Our Man in Havana” last week.
I mention that as the following day came the photographs of North Korea‘s massive new ICBM missile in the annual military parade. Mindful of “Our man in Havana’s” plot I’ll wager the rocket was bogus and simply an empty metallic shell. After all, who’s to know?