UnBooks:Travels Through the Tropics

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The novel Travels Through the Tropics is also available in paperback.

Ah, the tropics. Such lovely weather there. Of course, the near-perpetual downpours do get a bit monotonous... and there is that uncomfortable humidity. Not to mention all the negroes. How trying the tropics can be! But, when the warm sun rises and twinkles so beautifully over the streams of filth running from undeveloped, overcrowded villages, one finds it impossible to suppress the joy living in that beautiful place can bring.

The Discovery Of My True Location, That Is To Say Where In The World I Actually Was While Experiencing These Events

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This penguin allowed me to discover my true location.

I spent nearly an entire week living on the island, so I obviously know everything there is to know about the tropics. First thing's first: where was I? I wondered that myself upon my first arrival, since my ship's captain had gone down with the vessel and drowned after it ran aground on a Tahiti beach. We had somehow got quite a ways off of our voyage's carefully planned course, and we were almost completely lost when we arrived on the island I would be forced to live on.

So, I took the great burden of finding out where we were onto my own shoulders, and began asking around. Since I could find no good, Christian speakers of the Queen's English, I had to settle for a dark-skinned young lad with a strange accent and an oddly-shaped head who smelled funny and had weird hair and didn't dress right and didn't eat right and had bad manners and smelled. He called himself "Daniel Smith"--I think. It's so difficult to spell these strange aboriginal names. Young Daniel called this place "The Philippines," another strange name the natives used. I, however, needed to know the area's real name.

I was perplexed, for a time--until I saw the penguin, that is. I was walking through the dense jungle to find a good tree to wee on when I noticed it, perched on a leafy branch, 20 feet above my head. The penguin, clearly distinguishable as such by its black and white plumage, looked at me inquisitively for just a moment, then flew off. Because of the presence of these birds, I knew that we were in fact in Antarctica. I can tell you one thing first hand, dear reader: It is significantly warmer here than it is usually portrayed.

Becoming The Village "Physician," Which Is Apparently The Natives' Outlandish Term For A Surgeon Or A Doctor, Which Is What I Actually Was

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The decrepit, squalorous huts in which the poor natives must struggle to survive each day.

It was not long–a mere four days–before I was made the doctor of these barbaric heathens. Now, when I say "was made," I suppose that what I really mean is "cheated, blackmailed, threatened, stabbed, and generally worked my way into the position through whatever dishonest means were available to me." As it turned out, this included quite a few! The current doctor needed to be dealt with first, so I convinced the gullible savage that evil spirits were haunting his primitive 4-bedroom, 3-bath, 2,000 square foot hut. And also I murdered him. And just like that, there was an empty position for me to fill!

Oh, the Antarcticans wanted to put some other heathen in charge of medicine, of course, but I knew far better than they about such matters, and I told them so. All it took to convince them was a demonstration of my superior pharmaceutical knowledge, which took the form of poisoning several public officials, and before long they were begging me to be their doctor and to stop killing people. But mostly they wanted me to be doctor.

Working As The Village "Physician," Which Is Apparently The Natives' Outlandish Term For A Surgeon Or A Doctor, Which Is What I Actually Was

My first day on the job started fairly uneventfully. I walked into my office two hours late to find my very first patient, one of the members of my ship's crew, sitting before me, shivering in the heat and sweating as profusely as an exceptionally rotund, hairy man after a particularly vigorous round of jumping jacks. "What seems to be the problem?" I asked.

"I have malaria," he said. This, I knew, was preposterous. This was the tropics, and we had been inoculated from the disease with the best polio vaccines money could purchase! Clearly, this man was insane, and I would have to diagnose his dementia.

"Hmmm," I said. "Any discoloration of the stools, of late?"

"No," he responded. "But my pee has been brown. That's one of the symptoms of malaria."

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A young native lad and I. See how we affectionately carry weapons to defend ourselves from one-another? True bonds were forged.

Oh, he was good, but I knew I was better. "Has anyone been following you?"

He stared at me, confused. "No... What does that have to do with my malaria?"

"Oh, it could have lots to do with your "malaria"," I chuckled. Here, I used aerial quotations to express my sarcasm, then moved on to my diagnosing his blatant insanity. "Any thoughts of violence?"

"I'm thinking some right now..."

"What about suicide?"

"No."

"Do you ever have the unexplained desire to burn things?"

"No..."

"Do you ever hear voices when nobody is around?"

"Yes," he said thoughtfully. "When I become delirious from the fever caused by my malaria."

It had become painfully clear. This man was batty. He was moonstruck, cuckoo, unsound; off his rocker, even. In general, he was a raving lunatic: A madman. "Well, you've obviously got malaria," I said, sarcasm dripping from my voice, as sarcasm is often very beneficial to the insane. "We'll treat your "malaria" (here I again used the sarcastic aerial quotations) right away." I reached into my pocket and pulled out a large syringe of horse tranquilizer. This man was clearly a danger to himself and to others as long as he remained so insane, and I intended to subdue him. "Now this won't hurt a bit," I said calmly. Then I flicked him on the nose. "See, that didn't hurt at all, did it? This injection will actually hurt kind of a lot, though." With that, I administered a very liberal dosage of the horse tranquilizer, and his "malaria"(See again how I use these sarcastic quotations? Ha ha ha!) problems were all but over.

My Terrifying Encounter With The Deadly Fauna Which Dwelt On The Island

On my sixth day on the island, I decided to take a brief leave of absence from my duties as village surgeon. I had grown rather weary from my first two days of doctoring, and I felt that the boy with the two broken legs could probably wait a few days before needing treatment. He would get used to the terrible agony after a while, unless he didn't, in which case I was well out of earshot of his yelling, anyway. I opted to walk into the jungle forest surrounding the island's central peak, in hopes that I might study some of the local flora and fauna.

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Oh no, a cobra! Look out, intrepid hero!

Within the first hour of my trek into the woods, my guide, "Harold" (yet another strange, unpronounceable native name!) stopped me suddenly with a firm hand on my chest. "Stop here for a second," he said. "Look at the ground ten feet in front of you. See that brown thing that looks like a twig? That's a cobra--very venomous, very dangerous. We'll just take a wide path around it, and try to let it be."

Now, at first I was rather unphased by this development. Frankly, although this snake's venom may be dangerous to the natives, Christian fellows such as I are made of sterner stuff. "Nonsense, I said! I am in no danger here. Let us push onwa–" At this break in my dialogue, illustrated by the dash in this text, I ceased speaking. My gaze had wandered upwards, and landed upon the header of this chapter. Deadly Fauna? Uh oh! I knew better than to tempt dramatic irony, and decided to go home.

An Exciting Conclusion To The Intricate And Richly-Woven Tale Which I Have Written

The day after I was nearly murdered by the writer with the violent sense of humor, I boarded a ship leaving the island. My only regret was that I could not stay to help the Antarcticans pull themselves out of their savagery; they still had so far to go. Although I converted two natives to Christianity, I would be leaving them without any prospective doctor, two or three plagues caused by European diseases, 3 illegitimate half-white babies in three separate unwilling mothers, and a newfound deep-rooted distrust of foreigners. That's right: I converted two of them to Christianity! I am surely in God's favor now!

I someday hope to return again to that tropical paradise, Antarctica, to finish what I began all those words ago, up at the top of the page. But I probably won't. You know how it is; things come up, you get busy, stuff gets pushed back. You know. Besides, did you read about all the darkies there? I tried to play it down a little–I'm a tolerant fellow–but I mean really! I certainly dislike those poor souls unfortunate enough to be different from me.

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