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  • New York Aug. 12, 2009

    Dear John and Chris:

    Your postcard (the one you addressed to yourself, enclosed in this letter) was among the four I found in the pile destined for NYC.

    Here is an account of my first pirate post delivery once I was back in the City. I started with the easiest one, a postcard addressed to a woman named Sarah, on West 161st Street, which is just 7 blocks away from where I work. I rang the bell at the outside door of the 24-hour doormanless grey apartment building. A woman's voice answered, and had I to shout this three times into the receiver, with some variations:

    "Hello! My name is Joachim Frank. I just came back from the Galapagos Islands. I have a postcard to hand-deliver."

    "OK," the voice finally said and buzzed me in. At the apartment door, after taking an asthmatic elevator, I was greeted by a young woman who was on the cell phone. She took the card from me, looked at the address, and said quickly,

    "OK, I'll pass it on to her."

    "So you are not Sarah?"

    "No, but she lives here." Again, she seemed to think the transaction was over.

    "But let me explain. You need to tell Sarah how she got the postcard."

    "Yes?"

    "I can't explain it since you are on the cell phone."

    "Sorry, I'm on hold." She smiled, looked at me for the first time, indicating her full attention.

    "You have to tell Sarah that this is a delivery of pirate mail from the Galapagos Islands. There is a big box on one of the beaches (called the Post Office beach) of one of the islands where people drop off their mail, and other people, like me, volunteer to deliver it in person. The mail box has been there since 1792. See, no stamp!"

    I pointed at the little picture showing Darwin with flowing beard which was actually printed in the stamp area of the postcard.

    "Oh my God!" Sarah's room mate said, with a glimmer of comprehension.

    And so I left, with the satisfaction of having had an attention span of 2 minutes by a real person entirely devoted to my mission. I walked another four blocks, to catch the subway at 157th Street.

    -- So now you will understand that for me, living on the Upper West Side, the idea of going cross town and finding a closed door or similar fleeting attention by a surrogate of the addressee was no longer appealing, so I decided to send the postcard on its final mile to you via ordinary federal snail mail. New York City is just too big and life is too short.

    I do hope you had a similar thrilling experience on the Islands!

    With best wishes,

    Joachim
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