Chapter 5Recoverability

I'd worn the same pair of button-fly 505 Levi's for a month while backpacking through Central America and, aside from some pupusa stains and the subtle accumulation of chicken bus grime, they'd been exceedingly durable and reliable.

Busing and hitchhiking in pickup beds through Columbian FARC country, I'd finally arrived at San Andrés de Pisimbalá, a remote, mountainous pueblo bordering the Tierradentro archaeological and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Remote and inaccessible except by horseback, the seldom-seen Tierradentro features pre-Columbian tombs carved into hilltops with 7th-century ceramics and polychromatic paintings in situ.

Having serendipitously met my guide's wife while hitchhiking the gravelly road to San Andrés, I saddled up and followed Pedro on horseback, dismounting at numerous tombs to descend down rock-hewn spiral steps into spaciously carved caverns and indescribable antiquity. As the day wore on and the equatorial sun beat down, I was thankful for the cool breeze but, while dismounting at one site, the breeze suddenly intensified and I realized that amid the jolting, jarring hours on horseback I had completely ripped out the crotch of my Levi's. ¡Ay caramba!

The front-to-rear tear was catastrophic and career-ending for the Levi's; the guide and his wife were amused when, back at the hostel, I learned that she could not repair the rip with a patch. I'd be in Quito, Ecuador, in a couple days, so I was resolved to modesty until then as ...

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