I came to Balgüe with only one intention – to catch a zopilote. I’ve been studying the habits of these nasty looking birds for quit a while now, Guzman. When I’m traveling I see them a lot beside the road, cleaning up the sad remains of a cow, horse or donkey, hit by a car or a massive Kenworth truck. I like to take pictures of these cleaning creatures. The birds signify death in a gracious way. But they’re shy. So, when I climb off the Guzzi I slowly approach them, very slowly, like a crawling tiger. When I make a sudden move, even with my pinky, they’re gone and I lose the picture. Or I wait half an hour in the burning sun and sometimes they return to their meal. It’s all about confidence, you see Guzman. So, I had this picture in mind, the image of a zopilote just before he lands on the gast-tank of the Moto Guzzi, his wings spread out and all. I had to go to an isolated area were people are friendly. I consider it too dangerous to wait a day beside the road in a remote area all by myself. We’re still in Centro America. So I went to the island Ometepe near the border of Costa Rica and ended up in this little town called Balgüe.
I liked Balgüe at first sight. It’s dusty, small, only 1632 inhabitants spread out over 263 families, and it has this easygoing atmosphere. It’s like going back a hundred years in time. People were friendly to me at the beginning. Balgüe is beautiful; the volcanoes Conception and Madera surround it. A hundred meters distance of my hospedaje there’s the lake of Nicaragua, one of the biggest sweet water lakes in the world. Balgüe was the ideal place to base myself for a couple of days and to ‘hunt’ for this zopilote-picture. It turned out to be the most ridiculous assignment I gave myself ever. It started with the meat. I bought five kilos of cow remains – nasty stuff like lungs and throat – and put it in a plastic bag to let it rot for a day or two on the roof of the hospedaje (lost all the Zopilote-adventure pictures, tough). Zopilotes like their meat well done, you see Guzman. But fuck, the meat smelled big time like a mass grave filled with dead grannies. When I left town, the meat pilled up at the back of the bike, to search for a location I was surrounded by a cloud of flies and the dogs were chasing me all over the place. So I revved up the bike and went to Costa Azul, a small beach seven kilometers from Balgüe. I positioned the bike on the beach, put meat on the tank and some in front as an extra bate. I could smell the rotting meat from a fifty meters distance, no lie. I waited and after an hour or so the first zopilote was making circles, gently carried by the current of the air. I liked that part. You set something up and animals you only saw in a zoo before actually respond. Then came the second, the third, the fourth… When after half an hour a flock of zopilotes landed in front of the bike I thought the picture was just a matter of time.
Then the dogs closed in.
I mean, when I can smell the meat from a distance, dogs surely can. And most of the time they’re hungry. So, instead of hunting zopilotes I was chasing dogs all day. They stole the goddamned meat fifteen times and fifteen times I got it back. Throwing stones, kicking their balls and all. The zopilotes never came back that day. There was too much confusion on the beach. The other day was an exact copy with one difference, the dogs got away with meat the moment I took a leak. So the dogs won eventually and I realized that for the moment the picture only exist in my head. Anyway, the dogs taught me a lesson, that it’s stupid to take pictures of animals when you’re surrounded by lovely people who are willing to pose for you any time you ask them to. So I gave myself another assignment. While making it, I had my friend Maurice the talented architect from Amsterdam in mind. We were drinking mates for years. Then he got a baby and life changed drastically. What remained was our daily break – we both work for ourselves and live practically next door – and that’s the game Barricade. It’s actually a game for children, but he, age doesn’t matter when you’re having fun. We must’ve played it 1567 times and I won at least 1563 times. Anyway, I know what he misses in life. So, this one is for you Centuri
PS Guzman, you need to hear the music. Do you? Man, I´ll rest my case.