Friday, April 6, 2012

Mosquitoes, nudity and malaria

Why do I think nudity got your attention? Actually I am responding to a reader(s) request to regale you with the adventures of my father and I as we explored a lot of the world. I'll try to condense most of it so as not to bore you. My father was a proponent of "transmigration"; the belief that ancient civilizations traveled the globe long before most think it was possible. Those of you that were fed the distortion that is History in public schools might relate. Especially if you believe Columbus discovered America. Believe it or not "transmigration" is a hotly debated topic. My earliest memories of getting the explorer bug came from our travels in Europe (my father was stationed in England as a USAF fighter pilot). I was and am a horrible student and had a tutor that took me to many of the ancient castles and sites throughout Great Britain. From my earliest memories I was enamored with knights, Merlin, the round table, et all. My father packed the four of us in a Beetle (that's a Volkswagen) and we toured Europe. It was on this trip in a museum in Norway that I got first lesson in transmigration. It was there that I got to view the Kon Tiki, a raft made by Thor Heyerdahl that he used to cross the Pacific.The book written about that voyage makes a great read. More travels followed and we explored through the years. Along the way my father became enamored with the Mayan people and their culture as we toured many of the ruins, including Chicen Itza and Tulum. Some of our travels allowed us to explore deep into the jungles of the rain forest in Brazil. (Now comes the nudity, mosquitoes and malaria ( -:) As part of his position as one of the military attaches to the consulate in Sao Paulo, my father had virtually unfettered access to the Brazilian Air Force and their aircraft. (My adventures playing with the son of a Brazilian Air Force officer in and on a wide variety of WW 2 aircraft could fill another blog entry). My father and I, along with a few Brazilian officers, would take to the sky in a wide variety of aircraft and head into the Brazilian rain forest. The official version was that we were checking on the military radar sites that were scattered all over the Brazilian interior. If asked we needed the guns for protection from the natives. We had the fishing gear because what red blooded male would want to miss the opportunity to throw a line into the Amazon and its tributaries? We would fly up to Fortaleza and /or Belem, fuel up, and turn west into the rain forest. Crossing the Amazon and seeing the seeming endless sea of green that was the rain forest was an awe inspiring site. We would fly for hours and look for a break in the jungle, fly low over it, and if it looked good we'd attempt to land there. One of these stops resulted in us being met by a tribe of naked indians along with a few missionaries. Other than the missionaries, we were the first "white men" the natives had seen in over a decade. Here's the kicker-the indians had recently killed one of the missionaries. Some of you may remember the SX 70 Polaroid camera. Before digital photography, you took pictures with these unwieldy things and out of the front of it would come a still developing picture. Anyway my father whipped this thing out and snapped a picture. The resulting "miracle"of these indians being able to see themselves for the first time calmed things down. We also had a box of trinkets which included mirrors and beads that we traded. I almost forgot the mosquitoes. I have been in many countries in my travels and never have seen mosquitoes like the swarms in the Amazon. The indians used no deodorants or colognes and covered themselves in mud as a deterrent. We used pure Deet, I think. Anyway it was this stuff in small plastic bottles provided by the Air Force and it helped some. As far as malaria goes, it was an epidemic amongst the indians. One trip we forgot our malaria pills and I found out afterwards that the hut I had entered to trade with the indians was the tribal hospital (so to speak) and that most of the indians in it were afflicted. My father contracted it and it affected him for the rest of his life. I was luckier. There is so much more, but those of you still reading are probably falling asleep. Let me finish by saying that my father was later vindicated in his beliefs. Our travels showed that the items we traded for deep in the jungles of Brazil bore a striking similarity to the garb of the ancient Egyptians and Mayans-fascinating. My father would go on to become a celebrated member of the Explorers club, a fellow of the Royal Geographic Society and decorated war hero.


  1. Mark, I have been a believer in transmigration for years. It IS a fascinating subject. AND, I read your story to the very end. It was very interesting. Sounds like you (and your dad) have had some great adventures!

  2. And I thought,as a military brat, I had travelled. Wow.