Postcard from Chinguashi

Chinguashi was a gold and copper mining town.  Richie told him Australians and English prisoners served as slave labor when Singapore fell in ‘42.  American POWs — Joey’s dad and Richie— followed.

Richie ordered Joey to go see Chinguashi as soon as he was given an R and R from ‘Nam.  “Why Taiwan?” his platoon sergeant had asked, and Joey snapped.  “Lookin’ for gold.”

Joey met a guy on Taipei’s main drag who said he could tour him around cheap.  “I want to see Chinguashi,” Joey said.  “Twenty bucks a day for two things.  First, give me the tourist crap.”

“What’s number two thing?” the guy asked.

“I’ll tell you later.”

Out in the hills, the guide explained what had happened back then.  “Every day, starving soldiers, they walk down 1,186 steps to the mine.  Then they walk more steps to working level.  At night, they go back uphill —1,186 steps.  You see ocean, past those green hills?  They see it too, maybe think it’s a dream.  Know they will die here.”

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