Chile Postcard

Arrive Tranquillo, a place, not the disposition though that, too. Hot, bright, rundown lakeside. Encounter Francis with a curious trailer setup and an even more curious bicycle.

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He’s traveling with Philippe who also has a precarious looking homemade trailer, both from central France,

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and they have recently been riding with Baptiste who has been on the road for two years.

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They’re psyched about the Pugs, we laugh and joke and trade anecdotes. How strange it is to be on this two wheel superhighway after Peru and Bolivia. The Carretera is filled with cyclists and a ringing contrast to the earlier isolation we’ve faced for so long. These last days are the first time that I’ve passed riders and just wave to them, not stop to talk because I know there will be a dozen more over the day.

Invited to camp. I contribute a 2 liter carton of wine to their 3 liters.

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We get very jolly. We celebrate home, Francis because of 29ers, Phillipe because of New York City, Baptiste because of Alaska where he started. We celebrate theirs, my love of Paris and the Pyrenees, of Merleau-Ponty and Mersaults and Looks confessed, it’s all simpatico, we’re cooking potatoes in the campfire, argue the merits and the fundamental Americaness of sporks. They’re not shy about lapsing into long spans in their home language, I appreciate that, they are three and there should be no other presumption, I try to keep up with my two forgotten high school years.

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A older French couple with impossibly stylish haircuts and strong glasses from the site down the way hear the French chatter and show up with Anis, soon we’re all in a decent low orbit. We joke, but it’s ominous, about the time we’re likely to get started tomorrow. We tuck into the second two liters, my French gets much better in my imagination, but not according to the gang; what do they know? We eat grapes and chocolate and wine for dessert.

Later the gloves come off and they mock my soup in a packet with pasta avocado and tomato meal, dinner that with some of my past travel companions would be haute cuisine — theirs looks, um, better — but I make merciless fun of the enormous loads they are carrying in order to have their frenchie gravy and fancy vegetables and we laugh into the starlight and darkening sky.