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Altitude adjustment

The comic potential of topographical confusion

Author James Dorsey

IQUITOS, PERU – An eclectic group of world travelers sits around a dinner table on an Amazonian riverboat heading out of Iquitos, Peru. With the jungle foliage crowding in and the air thick with moisture, the somewhat lubricated passengers begin reminiscing about the places they’ve been, the things they’ve seen.

At one point, talk turns to mountain excursions and the adventures therein. Two men say they’ve been to the top of Tanzania’s Kilimanjaro; one has climbed Aconcagua in Argentina. The prominence of the world’s tallest summits is then debated, which in turn prompts the more general question of what is the highest point each person has ever reached.

The Englishman at the end of the table, who’s been nursing his beer all evening and saying very little, suddenly looks up from his mug and responds, in all seriousness: “Haight Ashbury, 1968.”

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