I don’t check my news feed very often but when I do there’s almost always an update on the adventures of internet security pioneer, purveyor of cryptocurrency intrigue and U.S. presidential candidate John McAfee.
In case you missed recent reports, McAfee was taken off his yacht and arrested on firearms charges in the Dominican Republic two weeks ago, was released three days later, after which he stopped over in London just long enough to give tv and newspaper interviews in route to Lithuania where he has been busy lining his new apartment with aluminum foil to protect against cyber spies.
So what prompted the ex-tycoon’s international travels and his residency in an Eastern European Faraday Cage? He and his wife, an ex-prostitute whose services McAfee procured a few years ago in Miami, were indicted earlier this year for U.S. tax fraud and the couple has been on the run ever since.
A little more background on McAfee in case you didn’t know. The same year he purchased a condo in Cuenca’s Gringolandia — 2008, I believe it was — McAfee also bought a house on Ambergris Key, Belize, which is where, four years later, his neighbor turned up dead with a bullet in the back of the head. Crack elements of the Belizean police investigation unit suspected foul play and, based on the fact that the neighbor had threatened to poison McAfee’s dogs which, in fact, turned up dead from poisoning shortly thereafter, wanted McAfee for questioning. By the time the police came knocking, however, McAfee and his harem of teenage girls had crossed the border into Guatemala from which, after faking a heart attack, he flew on to the U.S.
There’s much more to this and other McAfee stories, of course, and inquiring minds will be well rewarded with Google and YouTube searches of the subject.
Speaking of the subject brings me to my night of moderate to heavy drinking a dozen or so years ago with John McAfee and David Morrill at the old Eucalyptus Bar on Gran Colombia. When I arrived, John and David were deep into a discussion about preparing wild game animals for cooking, with David holding forth on the importance of possum gland removal.
Sitting at the opposite end of the bar, listening in with something less than rapt attention, was Leslie, the bar’s proprietor, engulfed in her customary cloud of cigarette smoke, fingering the stem of her customary glass of chardonnay.
Just as a new lady expat, fresh off the steamer from Seattle, sat down next to him, John coolly shifted the conversation from possum prep to his most recent trip to the Amazon in quest of jungle plants that could be useful in developing new medicines. He was careful, however, to carry on the theme of food preparation.
“I was staying with a tribe near the Peruvian border and one night they served an absolutely delicious stew,” he said. “I complemented the chefs, who were scantily attired in native garb, and asked about the meat. Well, they told me, a little girl from a rival clan was caught trying to steal a chicken and, as a consequence, ended up in the pot.” He explained that he went on to inquire about the spices that gave the stew its “picante kick.”
At this point and as if on cue, my friend Sumana passed by and remarked offhandedly that her favorite Amazonian dish was children’s fingers but only if they were thoroughly washed. “They’re really quite disgusting when they don’t wash their hands first,” she said.
Providing context and playing the part of the earnest if not somewhat avuncular ex-journalist, David explained to the new expat that Ecuador’s constitution allows indigenous communities to bypass the official state legal system and apply ancestral justice as they see fit.
According to a mutual acquaintance, the lady from Seattle didn’t stay long in Cuenca, settling in Vilcabamba instead.
For the latest on John McAfee, click here.