Through the leaves shaped like giant elephant ears, he marches, swinging his machete to divide the thick vines blocking his path. Hanging between trees like lazy booby traps waiting to catch the right victim by its neck and pull him high into the heavens. The man is smarter. That’s why he came armed to defend himself against nature’s silent predators. He will not get caught in their tangled web.
Half a cigarette dangles from his lip. A strand of white smoke trails from the burning stick, glowing orange at one end when he inhales. He doesn’t bother to remove it when he exhales a blast of gray smoke from his nose. Like a dragon. With smooth brown flesh instead of bumpy green scales. He plods deeper into the jungle to search for spoils.
People in the village told him about the ancient conquistadors who hid their gold deep in the forest before setting out to rob the trees and plants of their precious tonics and salves. The jungle killed every single man on that expedition and retained the gold for itself.
This man thinks he needs the gold more, and he’s willing to fight the trees and earth for the wealth which will save an entire nation from death by drought. He doesn’t want the medicine this forest holds dear, like the sacred family recipes that are taboo to share with anyone who doesn’t carry the same blood. He only wants the resources which this jungle doesn’t need, the gold that richer men value over life, a value he barely understands. He has never been financially rich. But he knows the wealth of love and respect, which is why he traveled across a vast ocean to find a cure for his people’s ails. They need water. The white man says they have to pay.
This man will show them. He’ll get their damned money and drop it at their feet. He won’t say a word in their language. He won’t even speak in his own. He’ll simply point to the fake well in their office and motion to the ground. This should be enough.
He hopes the jungle will understand.