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Part 2 - Don't Take

Part 2 - Don't Take "No" For An Answer

Hello and good day!

When I left off yesterday, my brother Brian had just hauled Anthony Bourdain's camera gear and production crew members across the Chinchipe River.

What should have taken 20 minutes ended up taking 2 hours.

The river was high and rushing strongly and the floating platforms that were normally used to transport vehicles across the river were out of commission.

The platforms couldn't run when the river was high because when the current was too strong, the platform barges tended to flip over.

Brian went back and forth across the river in canoes with outboard motors until all of the audio-visual equipment and crew members had been ferried over.

Hot jungle rain poured from the sky throughout the ordeal and after two hours, Brian was exhausted and soaked through.

But the adventure was only just beginning.

The filming plan for the day was to venture out to the cacao farm of Don Fortunato Colala, the wonderful gentleman who our company is named after.

Bourdain and the crew had rented pickup trucks, but the trucks had to be abandoned on the other side of the river because the platforms weren't running.

The camera equipment was laid out on the side of the river underneath a tarp.

Exhausted as Brian was, he couldn't take a break because now he had to line up vehicles to drive Bourdain, gear, and crew back into the canyon along muddy jungle roads out to Fortunato's farm.

It took 6 white station wagon taxis to carry the load of 3 big pickup trucks.

Our processing team helped Brian load camera and audio gear into station wagon hatchbacks.

Once everything was loaded up, Bourdain, famous chef Eric Ripert, 7 film crew members, 5 of our team members, my dad, and Brian piled into taxis.

Brian sat shotgun in the lead car.

The caravan drove down the five-block concrete road that constitutes the entirety of downtown Puerto Ciruelo.

Puerto Ciruelo is the port town on the Chinchipe. It sits in front of the canyon that is the District of Huarango.

The taxis drove down the small road with the overfull Chinchipe off to the right.

At the end of the road, where you can walk down a dirt path that leads to a small beach on the river's bank, the caravan turned left and drove up hill.

That little beach floods over and disappears when the river is high and on this day the beach was completely submerged.

On the outskirts of Puerto Ciruelo, a dirt road lined with dense green jungle trees and bushes cuts perpendicular in front of the hill.

The caravan turned right onto the road and the six taxis began to make their way into the canyon, navigating through a labyrinth of interconnected dirt roads.

As you go deeper into the canyon, you cross rushing creeks that are straddled by dilapidated bridges. You are surrounded by expansive nature, rolling jungle hills, rice, coffee, and cacao farms on all sides.

Farmers drive herds of sheep and cattle down dirt roads, slapping animal rumps lightly with a thin branch and shushing them forward.

Farm dogs chase your car as you drive by.

It is quiet except for the sound of car motors and barking dogs and the sound of heavy splattering rain.

The caravan was making very good time and Brian was beginning to feel optimistic.

There were several dangerous crossings that could have delayed the journey, but the group had managed to escape common difficulties.

Coming down the home stretch to Fortunato's farm, along a dirt road that was flat and then ran uphill, Brian saw a group of men standing in the middle of the road talking.There were several vehicles parked along the side of the road.

Brian had never experienced any complications on this particular stretch.

He asked the driver to stop. He stepped down from the car and hand motioned to the rest of the party to wait a moment while he investigated.

As Brian walked towards the gathering, he saw the problem.

A government tractor had been working on excavating drainage canals along the side of the road.

When the rain came on hard and suddenly several days earlier, water had pooled in the road's trough, a dip just where the path turned uphill.

The heavy tractor had sunk into fresh mud and was stuck there. The driver had tried to power out of the morass, but that only sunk the tractor in deeper.

Brian chimed into the ongoing conversation.

"We need to get this tractor out of the way. I have a very important group with me. We have to get through as quickly as possible."

The men looked at Brian with incredulity.

"Only the government can move this. We are all stuck here until another tractor comes," said one of the men.

"But I need to get through right now," said Brian.

"Impossible. We just have to wait," said another member of the group.

"When will they send a tractor?" asked Brian.

"Who knows? You know how the government is around here. It could be days or maybe even weeks," said a man.

Brian thought for a moment and turned to look at the taxis.

In the last vehicle, at the end of the parked line of taxis, Brian saw Anthony Bourdain sitting in the back seat, waiting patiently, and talking with my dad.

Brian returned his gaze back to the group of men standing in the rain next to the tractor in the middle of the jungle and shook his head.

"No," said Brian.

"What do you mean no?" asked one of the men.

"I mean no. It isn't going to take a couple of days or a week. We're moving this tractor right now. I'm getting through," said Brian.

"But how will you do that?" asked a man.

"I don't know," said Brian.

He walked back to the taxi that had our team members in it and called a team meeting.

"I need ideas," said Brian to the team.

"No matter what, we need to shovel out mud from around the tractor tracks. We can go out to the farms around here and borrow shovels," said Edilson, one of our team members.

"Ok. Go do it. And get extra shovels for the gathering of men over there. We'll offer them a day's wage to help us shovel," said Brian.

"Brian, how much money do you have?" asked Oscar, our buying team manager.

"I have a lot. Why?" asked Brian.

"I can go and try to borrow a government tractor from the municipality," said Oscar with a wink.

He used air quotes when he said "borrow".

Brian reached into his fanny pack and gave Oscar a thick stack of bills.

"Pay any price," said Brian.

Oscar took off walking down the road towards a farm whose owner he was friends with to borrow a motorcycle that he could use to drive back to town to bribe a government official for impromptu use of a government tractor.

Unfortunately, I'm running long now.

I will have to finish up this story tomorrow.

Several people have asked me if they can see this episode of Part Unknown online.

It is on Amazon Prime.

Season 1 Episode 7.

None of the story that I have related so far was caught on film, but if you watch the episode, you'll know that this is what happened behind the scenes.

And don't forget. You don't have to take no for an answer.

Life offers many work arounds.

Thank you so much for time today.

I hope that you have a truly blessed day!


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