I left Thailand after several of my female students turned out to be boys, and my offer of improved grades based on performance had to hastily be withdrawn. Word spread rapidly across campus, and within hours I was in a windowless van, crossing the Burma border, where Karin rebels housed me, blindfolded in a grass hut, until I could safely be moved to Bangladesh. From there it was only five thousand miles or so, by water buffalo, to the Iranian sea coast, the infamous Straits of Hormuz, where I languished on an island whose only other occupants were prostitutes waiting sixty days to have their Dubai tourist visas renewed, so they could return to the land of too much money and get some for themselves.
Alas, my presence in the Arab Emirates was not appreciated to the level I had, at least in my mind, become accustomed. My collection of sand pictures brought only yawns from the few gallery visitors and reviewers. So I leapt at an offer from a wealthy (aren’t they all?) Arab to supervise his cattle holdings at a ranch in Paraguay. Looking back, I think he simply wanted me to count them. But I assumed he wanted me to write back stories and character motivation sketches for each cow and steer, and when I presented these to him, inked in la sangre de vaca on fine vellum, he had me deported to Argentina, which is once again on the brink of economic collapse. I took this opportunity to begin trading in the “blue market” for dollars and pesos, doing quite well at first, until my competitors got wind of my success. Within days I was again in the back of a windowless van, speeding toward the Chilean/Bolivian border, near Salta, where I almost rented a luxurious apartment at a laughably low rent, thanks to the aforementioned exchange rate. Before I could sign the lease, I learned that the Arab prince had dispatched a legion of men to follow me, assassins who had vowed to neither eat nor drink until I was dead. So I took an all-night bus to the Uruguayan border, where I was denied entrance, and to this day relax, practicing my Spanish verb tenses, a guest of the Uruguayan people, awaiting the moment I can get John Kerry’s attention, and be removed from the watch list they have provided to all our so-called allies.