Dear Michele and Bob,

This was the first news that I have heard about Ben and I am very sorry for your loss. He was a great guy. I only knew him for a day and a half last May, but it doesn't take long to make a few memories so I would like to share those with you.

I pulled into Cuzco Peru early one morning and went to my former hotel to search for my friends, Kyle and Eric who I had not seen for almost a month. The man at the desk told me that they were indeed staying at the hotel and told me the room number. As I walked up to the door, about 6:30 am, I noticed right away that the key was still in the outside of the door. Those guys, I thought and pushed the door open. I expected to see two sprawled out bodies in the darkness but instead, I saw three. Somewhere along the line, they had picked up a 21 year old fisherman from Oregon who seemed much more mature than that. I let them sleep and then met them later in the afternoon. The day passed without event but the guys caught me up on a few Cuzco stories. It seems they had been partying in Cuzco for about four days, every night until 3 or 4 in the morning, dancing and drinking and having a great time. Ben, was in the habit of going to sleep on the stairs of the big church in the plaza and being awakened by the policia and sent home. I remember Ben laughing to me about how Kyle had lost a North Face jacket in a club and Eric had let one of his shirts go with some girl and he never got it back. Ben's only complaint about clothes was that his shirts had big holes in them, but a friend of theirs, Ilana, sat there and sewed them up while we chatted. He was proud to say he had not lost a shirt in Cuzco.

That night, we started out at a little bar for a couple of drinks, Ben and I decided that rum and coke would be our drink of choice for the night. We then moved on to a dance club, Mama Africa's I think and while everyone we were with started to dance, Ben and I sat at the table with our rum and cokes and chatted for awhile. Eric, Kyle, Ilana, and a British girl named C were with us. Well, after awhile, Ben and I both got a wee bit into our cups and so headed out to the dance floor to see if we could liven the place up a bit. The music was a mix of latin and american and we started having fun, all the while, the two of us taking turns buying the other guy drinks. There is this one song that is very famous in the South American dance clubs, called Bomba and everyone gets into two lines and they face each other and squat towards the ground and then go back up. They leave a space open like you would see in a movie like Greece in a dance seen. Anyhow, everyone is doing this and I have never been one much for lines so I danced right down the middle of the line, all the while people were yelling at me and kicking me out of the way. Ben looked at me and thought, "man, that guy is being a jerk," but then he realized how fun it was and the two of us disrupted the dancers for awhile until we realized their lines were a real good time as well and we joined them. We danced all night and after awhile, Ben dissapeared. I figured he got tired and went home.

The next morning, I learned a few interesting things about the previous night. Ben had wandered back to his room that he was sharing with Eric and Kyle. Well, there was a big thing that this girl C was now infatuated with Eric even thought her boyfriendof 7 years was with her in South America. Ben walks into the room and sees Eric and C laying on the bed, not doing anything, but there all the same and his great line is, "hey guys, uh, do you want some tacos? I could go get some tacos. Maybe I should go." Since nothing was happening, he stayed and in the morning, we all met up for breakfast.

That boy could eat. We went to a place, all we could eat eggs and bread and the waitress kept bringing it to us, and I think that when we left, Ben still wasn't full. Remember how both Kyle and Eric had lost jackets or shirts? Well, that morning, Ben says to me, "You know what, last night, I lost my shirt at the bar." I could have died laughing, seeing as he was so happy about Kyle and Eric losing their shirts and he didn't lose one. That afternoon, we said goodbye and Kyle, Eric and I headed south while Ben stayed in Cuzco. The story of this night and of Ben losing his shirt are two stories that I still tell all the time.

Ben struck me right away as one of those genuinely good people. Right away, easy to talk to, fun to hang out with, full of good stories. He was one of those people that I figured I would catch up with the next time I was in Oregon. I'm glad I had the opportunity to meet him, even if it was for such a short time. I have been blessed with this memory. I hope you enjoyed it, I wish I could have said more. I emailed both Kyle and Eric so hopefully you will hear from them too. Take care.