Drowning Woman, Depressed Man

May’s issue of Men’s Journal had quite a few beauts…including this one by Paul Theroux, famously grumpy travel writer. He describes an incident while he was in Equador looking for a drug to help jump start his book.

“Sitting on the riverbank, I saw three gringo women from our group dressed in shorts and shirts begin swimming across the river from the far bank. They were chirpy, gargling water as they clumsily paddled in the swift brown stream. One cried out, “I lost my ring!, It just dropped off my finger!” The two others hestitated, and as they stopped swimming they were pulled downstream…the river was just too much for her. I dived in, reached one after a few strokes, and brought her to shore. Her clothes were dragging, she could barely lift her arms, I tugged her to shore.

She winnied a bit, mirthless laughter. She didn’t thank me. She said “I think I could have made it on my own” In that moment of ingratitude, near-tragedy, and plain foolishness, I decided to bail out…I had come for the drug, and I had seen the horror of Lago Agrio–whores and drugs and stories of burned cars and the toxic Tour. Looking for the purity of the jungle I had found the violation of the oil people. The reckless women who had almost drowned themeselves seemed proof that the worst might be in store”