Me and Francisco Yabar

Me and Francisco Yabar

“I’m good at recognizing faces.”
The tall, chubby man in a dark suit outside Museo Naval del Peru looked at me, wondering whether or not I’d been there the day before?
“I have,” I said.
“Where are you going,” he said, smiling.
“To Miraflores.”
“I’m heading in that direction, follow me!”
He was accompanied by a young woman in a uniform, and I quickly realized this was not a man accustomed to being told “no, thank you.”
“Are you the director of the museum,” I asked. He gave me a nod.
“I’m a retired admiral in the navy,” he explained.
When we’d entered his car, he asked me where I was from. “Norway,” I answered truthfully, and explained that I’d gone to the museum looking for information about Kon Tiki and/or balsa wood rafts.
“Thor Heyerdahl’s son, Thor Jr, attended a dinner party at my house. During the dinner I got a phone call from the navy telling me I’d been promoted to admiral. I turned white as a ghost. It turned out that Thor Jr had been involved. He’s very adept at convincing people!”
At this point I was already star struck, but managed to keep my calm.
“You’re coming home with me to take a picture. You’ll send it to Olav Heyerdahl, Thor’s grandson. You know, Olav planned the Tangaroa-expedition in my home.  The Kon Tiki II expedition was also planned in my home.”

Me, in admiral Yabar's house

Me, in admiral Yabar’s house

“That’s awesome,” I admitted. The truth, of course, was I couldn’t find words to express how cool I thought it was.

During the car ride, I expressed my fascination with Thor Heyerdahl.

“You know, I have a funny story about Thor,” he said. “When I was much younger, working in the navy,” I attended a lecture by Thor. I bought a book of his, and wanted it signed. But after the lecture, he was surrounded by professors, military officers and politicians. Then, after a while, he notices me standing alone in a corner. He breaks out of the crowd and comes my way. “Hey, kid, what do you want?” I held out my book, and he signed it for me!”