“The Pink River Dolphin”
My grandfather, Don Gregorio, was godfather to Chelita, a beautiful though slight girl of the village, San Juan. One day, shortly before Chelita’s 14th birthday, she and Gregorio went fishing in a small canoe in a cocha or lagoon near the Marañon River. Tiring in the mid-day sun, Gregorio stretched out for a siesta and let Chelita handle the fishing pole. The chocolate brown water of the cocha was perfectly calm when suddenly a hand reached out of the water toward Chelita. She eluded its grasp, screaming and falling back on top of Gregorio. He immediately sat up and looked around, but all he spied was a pink dolphin swimming away from the canoe.
Chelita’s parents and my grandfather, Gregorio, held a conference to determine a course of action. They worried that one or more dolphins had marked Chelita as a prospective victim. They decided to watch the girl closely and not let her near the water unescorted. During late February of that year, carnival, the year’s biggest fiesta, was richly celebrated in San Juan. There were many who were strangers to the folks of San Juan, but in typical jungle fashion, they were warmly welcomed with tropical brews and food. However, Gregorio noticed two strangers in clean, dark clothes, wearing hats, who appeared to have eyes only for Chelita. He told Chelita’s father the two men were dolphins in disguise. Together they made a plan to protect Chelita and expose the dolphins.
Making sure that the strangers could hear, Gregorio told Chelita to go and help her girlfriend, who was near the river. Once outside, her father took her to safety. Sure enough, the two strangers took the bait and left the party, walking in direction of the river. Gregorio followed, but by the time he reached the river the strangers were nowhere in sight. Suddenly, he was jumped by the two men. However, Gregorio had his knife plunged it deep into the side of the closest man who had grabbed him. Both strangers immediately jumped into the river, while Gregorio retreated to the safety of others at the party. The next day, Gregorio heard that a pink dolphin was found washed ashore downriver, of a critical puncture wound in its side.
Amazon River Cruises: