Reviewed by Bob Arias (Colombia 1964–66)
We get to meet Gringo Mateo, the volunteer from Mission USA — an organization like Peace Corps in many ways. Mateo is sent to a small village in the remote area of Vainazola to assist the local farmers and the community COOP. But he gets caught up with the bad guys that do not want a gringo, especially Gringo Mateo, to find that they have been stealing money from the community, lots of dinero! Mateo is then framed for the murder of a young lady and the fact that he is the son of a prominent US Congressman causes problems for the American Embassy. This gets even better, as we see that the local CIA Station Chief is involved in gun running, and Gringo Mateo brings the whole operation down. Events then take us to the neighboring country of Coloria where their rebels do not know about his father, the Congressman from Oregon.
The Narcos, the rebels, and the CIA are all out looking for Mateo who makes his way home to Eugene, Oregon, with the help of beautiful and sexy Carolina . . .. The target never stops and you will find it difficult to put this book down. The ending is the best I have read in many a moon . . . we need a sequel. Please!
But the ending or final words ring beautifully in my ears, any volunteer — Peace Corps or Mission USA — will relate to these words: “ . . . they had all come back more aware, appreciative and often humbled in ways that set them apart from those friends and family who had not had a similar experience!”
Reviewer Bob Arias was an Associate Peace Corps Director in Colombia from 1968 to 1973, and Peace Corps Country Director in Uruguay and Argentina from 1993 to 1995. He returned to work at the Peace Corps from 2001 to 2003 and assisted in creating the agency’s Safety and Security Office. Now retired from Los Angeles County where he was the County’s Compliance Officer, Bob has been serving as a Peace Corps Response Volunteer (formerly known as a Crisis Corps) since 2009, and has worked in Paraguay, Colombia, and now for a second time, in Panamá.