they fought a war over the chaco even though no one wanted to live there. they said more people died from exposure than from bullets. even today there are less than a handful of towns spread over a couple hundred thousand square kilometers. in the summer it reaches 120°F and the snakes hang from the trees like ornaments; trying to find the wind. both the puma and the jaguar would compass us in the night. judas would wake me so wild that i was afraid to approach him. though untied he was not trying to escape. one local man asked me from atop his mule if i had a gun, his rifle resting across his withers. no, i said, i just have a donkey. he paused, looked at judas, spit out the coca leaves he was chewing and said, <<sometimes the donkey wins, sometimes the jaguar wins.>
the two brothers spent everyday walking the streets, sifting through the trash looking for anything recyclable; mostly metal. they had found a good supply of emptied oil tins through a hole in a fence at the back of an abandoned warehouse close to where we slept. they came most every evening and we would talk as they smashed down as many as they could fit into their plastic 100lb sugar sacks. some days they made as much as a dollar.
a high level government official, whose name i guess i shouldn't use, with the pretense of going to mass, took me into the country to buy sheep instead. we rode together until his mistress joined us at which point i had to ride in the following truck with the bodyguards. they laughed and joked in their bullet proof jackets their guns jiggling around their hips. it was their job to protect him, of which, keeping secrets was the easiest part.