Jenny Marie Jenkins drove nervously to the airport. She had all the necessary papers and had made the necessary plans for her daughter's summer. Stephanie, her fourteen-year-old daughter was going to spend the summer with her older sister, Ginny. Jenny had worked hard for this summer sabbatical to go to Peru.
Jenny had gone to university on a track scholarship and was doing pretty good until she had gotten carried away with her new popularity and gotten pregnant. As a young eighteen-year old freshman, she had moved back in with her mother, who helped raise Marie, her little girl. After that, she struggled with grocery checker type jobs trying to get through college and get a degree in Social Anthropology. She had become interested in how people of different races, ethnic groups and social strata interacted and treated each other.
Through the years, she had worked closely with one of her professors, Joe Jenkins, who was considerably older than she was. She had struggled to get her degree, and had been working on her masters when he had proposed. Jenny wasn't head-over-heels in love with him, but was really struggling with house payments, car payments, school expenses and health insurance. She tried to convince herself that she could grow to love him in time. The most immediate concern of hers was the welfare of her young girl.
When they married, Jenny was the dutiful young wife who tried to meet all of her husband's needs. He undoubtedly had the center of attention when he brought his wife to faculty meetings. Even now, at the age of forty, she still turned heads after all these years.
Joe, her husband was getting older, and always needed more excitement in the bedroom to get himself excited. He urged her to keep her reddish brown hair long. The naturally curly hair hung almost to her waist. Her skin tanned unusually easily for a redhead, and the freckles and soft brown sheen almost radiated when they walked into a room together. Joe constantly pushed the envelope, urging her to wear shorter and shorter dresses.
She had been somewhat ambivalent when their daughter who is now fourteen, was born. She always wanted more children, but was not completely secure in her feelings of their marriage being permanent.
Between her husband's salary and her good fortune of having a graduate assistant's job at the same university, she was able to spend several summers at different archaeological digs. She was interested in studying the drawings, paintings and whatever written documentation there was to understand the social structure of different historical groups.
The last two summers, she had been to Peru to join a group of archaeologists investigating the Nasca Indians. Historians and archaeologists had been studying the mysterious lines and designs in the arid deserts of southern Peru. There were many theories of how and why they were made. Many documentaries speculated that the hundreds of straight lines that can only be seen from very high altitudes were landing and launching strips for outer space aliens.
Jenny had helped document the lines with the 3D computer program; Lineart. They would have to build a series of towers and use an instrument like a transit to scan the mountains and ground formations from two opposite viewpoints. This would give them a 3D topographical record of all the designs on the ground.
When Jenny got to Lima, a guide was waiting for her. He was a huge black man named Diego. He had some kind of Russian military truck. It had three axels; one in the front and two in the back. The wheel was almost five feet in diameter and was an all-wheel drive truck. It seemed like a little too much in Lima, but Jenny knew that once they tried to get off of the main roads and cross the un-bridged rovers through the Nazca Valley, it would take every bit of a truck that big to get through. She had met Diego before, but there had always been several guides and a number of other archaeologists riding together. This time the others had already arrived a couple of weeks before, and she was the last.
The truck sat so high off the ground, Diego had to put his hands together in front of him so Jenny could stick her foot in them; place her hands on his shoulders and let him raise her enough to get in. Diego had already filled several 50 gallon barrels with gas; picked up eating provisions and more batteries for the ride back and additional supplies for the other archaeologists.
Jenny would have normally been comfortable with the way she was dressed at home or at the dig site, was starting to question her decisions now. She had put on some cut-off Levis that were cut well above mid-thigh. The grey, wool hunting socks were pulled above her chocolate colored lumberjack boots that stopped just below her knees. Her New York Yankee starter's shirt had been tucked into her jeans and fitted snugly to her athletic body. It was hot.
Diego was hot, and the perspiration streamed down his arms. As he had gone around the truck to get in the driver's seat, he had taken his shirt off and hung it over the back of his seat. The black man was over six feet six inches tall and the seat had been pulled back as far as it would go. His green military fatigue catalogue pant legs were worn over his military boots. His head and face were shaved so that the top of his head shimmered in the sun.
For a man that normally worked as a porter to tours, he was amazingly self confident and quietly respectful of the white woman. He tried not to stare rudely and her obscenely provocative arms and legs. Jenny's long reddish brown hair had been woven into a French braid and straight down out of the back of her black felt Stetson. Her Dolce & Cabana dark glasses projected an image of mystery that masked her uncertainty about spending two days with a black man. The trip was only about 280 miles to the Nazca Valley, but the rough roads and river crossings would make it seem much longer.
While they were driving, they chatted about all of the mysteries of the Nazca Valley; the meaning of the straight lines and different designs. Jenny gradually felt that he knew much more about the stories than his guide-to-tourist type of information he was passing on. She found out that his family had been there in the valley for thousands of years; that they may have been a part of the original Nazca Indians that had actually done the designs on the landscape.
The first night, Diego brought out two fluorescent colored tents. After pulling one out of the cover, he flung it into the back of the truck. The carbon fiber strands uncoiled and the two-man tent exploded into a self-erecting structure.
"That one's yours." He said as he set the other one under the truck. It was high enough off of the ground to inflate and not touch the structure. Diego walked down to a river under a waterfall and took off his clothes without looking back. Jenny watched as the small giant walked into the cold stream. She tried not to look up at him as she took some bread, cheese, salami and a two-liter bottle of coke out of the insulated ice chest.
She told herself she was not going to look as he got out, but it was hard to ignore his magnificent physique as he came out of the water. He was not anywhere near being excited, but even in his semi-flaccid state, getting out of a cold stream, her husband was light years away from comparing to him. He looked like the leather holster to a 45 caliber magnum had slid around to the front. She had to blink twice to make sure it was not his forearm she was staring at.
When he reached their campsite, he had his pants on and sat on a huge boulder to put on his shoes. "You can go take your own bath now. You never know if we are going to find another lake or river tomorrow. You may want to clean up when you can." His behavior seemed innocent enough. "Was her embarrassment over his or her nudity valid here in the middle of nowhere, or was it just the product of a prudent childhood? She was not embarrassed about being naked around her husband, but would not dream of taking her top off at a public beach.
The arguments of a Social Anthropologist began to kick in. "Just how should she handle this situation?" she wondered, knowing how so many different civilizations handled these issues. She was not at home now. She did not need to be judging herself by social standards back in Kansas City now.
She was in a land and in front of a man who seemed oblivious to her inhibitions she had been raised with at home. Never-the-less, old customs die hard. She would not have sunned topless in Nice, France, and she was not about to parade nude in front of some black giant in the middle of nowhere.
Jenny walked down to the river; sat down to take off her boots and socks and waded out into the water. Once she was in up to her waist, she ducked down; took off her top; bra; panties and tossed them on the bank. She struggled to sit in the chilling cold melted snow runoff. Gradually, she was able to get comfortable. Knowing there was a small stand of trees between her and Diego, she began to relax.
With the road grime washed out of her hair, she glanced around as she put her clothes back on. She had not worn a bra, so when she came back, she nervously tried to pull the shirt away from her to keep her long pink nipples from showing themselves. By then, Diego had started a fire and was warming some coffee.
They talked some more as the sun went down and the stars came out. Although nothing was overtly stated, Jenny felt that Diego knew much more about the mysteries of the Nazca Lines than he let on.
.... There is more of this story ...