We have been often asked to make blogs of those chapters we did not add to The Gift of El Tio, so the reader may see what was omitted from the final book. This is the first of several we will “blog” to you…this was to be the second chapter in the book, where the villagers discovered their town was sitting atop the silver deposit, and all that it portended…
The Power of Big Trucks
Why was it me and not some other guy flying here on this fancy jet drinking expensive French wine? Hell, plenty of geologists had sampled the hills around San Cristobal way before I got there. Their assays must have shown the same silver values as mine, but somehow I found the deposit, they didn’t. They walked away from it; I didn’t. Beats me how such things work out. But I’m not complaining.
I wished Karen were with me, but she could handle this royal treatment only a short time before her liberal guilt made her uncomfortable. After the first hour she’d say, “This is immoral in a country where there is so much hunger.” Right, as if me drinking the wine makes it any harder on the poor slob down there in the bush chasing his goats. Yeah, I think I’ll try the cabernet next.
The jet dropped to about 6000 meters, beginning its long approach to the dirt airstrip on the flats south of San Cristobal. I hope they chased the llamas off the field this time. The high peak of Cerro Jayula came in view to my right. Across from me, Wilson Córdova, the CEO of the La Paz subsidiary of the company rested his head against the fuselage, his hands folded politely in his lap. Wilson held an advanced degree in geology from Cal Tech, a school and a diploma that gave him special status, assuring respect from the local engineers who had graduated from the Bolivian schools in Oruro or Potosi. His stature matched his status. When in public he never failed to be immaculately dressed in a three piece suit, as sharp and precise as a Wall Street lawyer.
Numerous updrafts of warm air jolted Wilson awake with a start. He sat upright, straightened the hairs on his mustache, then rubbed the sides of his head to smooth his slightly-mussed hair. He pulled a notebook from his pocket, and as he read his notes he leaned over to me. “This meeting must go well. If they refuse…,” he said, shaking his head slowly from side to side, “We can’t let them. This is too important for the company. For the entire country.”
“And for them,” I added.
His oval face sported a thin, well-trimmed, pencil-thin mustache and short hair, slightly balding on top. He was confident and competent; looked a bit like Errol Flynn, capable under fire while possessing the hint of a romantic. The man was elegant, there was no other word for it; he displayed a dignity that others could only envy. I liked Wilson. He always treated me right. Especially now.
I pulled a plastic-wrapped package from my backpack. Karen’s home-made walnut-cranberry muffins, two of them. She always loaded my luggage with food, saying she didn’t want me to lose weight out there, but really, she just wanted me to carry some of her love with me. I offered a muffin to Wilson.
He put his notes down, and while munching he stared straight at my face, “I hear your wife is planning to write a book?”
I felt very uncomfortable. Wilson had enough problems; he sure didn’t need a book written about the mine right now, especially one by someone he suspected of having an anti-mining bias.
“I doubt she will ever write it,” I said to console him. “She hasn’t even visited Bolivia yet and probably won’t for a long time.”
“And if she writes it?”
“Yeah…well…I know Karen. She’s as honest as they come. She will see for herself that what we are doing is right. And I’ll be there to point things out; make sure she sees the truth.”
Wilson squeezed the crumbs and plastic into a tight little ball. “I hope she listens to you,” he said.
Six words, but I heard only three: Make it so…MORE