South Africa Postcard

Picture a little south of Tucson with no people but with giraffes and vervets. Route finding marginal vigilance, keep the valley at 2 o’clock, trail curls ’round presenting seductive wrong ways. This place so many abandoned farms but the reclaimed ruins right here are older, a more ambitious transience glorious during its seventy years ago.

Levitating atop the smallest gear, clingy traction, absorption into modal blue. Mean little sheep feet have obscured any tracks from the racers ahead but sure as sure that this is the way. Now super-G winding drop, wind from behind, body cowering back of the riser bars, tears breath leg shake over berms clip ruts loose stone into broad hazed distance.

Town in a pattern: ordered dirt grid shacks near the edges, then the road paved and painted bright concrete houses, ringing quiet to a creaking stop sign. Grandmother grandson are crossing, she’s supernova smile to my some small things and hello, directs me to the corner store. Tweeners and younger hanging about, I pass around the Doritos bag, now a bigger crowd and one of the taller ones is translating for ones who don’t speak English though half do. Someone twists up the courage to ask to ride the Pugs, there’s clamor and full press spectacle, we’re howling as some of the less coordinated boys wobble and threat, the teenage girls don’t elect to descend into this fray but hang around venturing a coolskool question now and there. One boy, half sized for his age and bent up a little differently abled but they all treat him with complete nonchalant respect and we chat, he can’t ride the bike but I put him squarely in my attention and the others get it that he’s as much as they are and he gets my first clasp with that in crowd flair where you hook your fingers and do handshapes that finish the handshake.

A bit later. The guy heads toward the fridge, says, “do you take Coke with it?”
My eyebrow up, “oh! Are you German?”
“No.”
“No.”
I’m the kind of dehydrated sun scorched spent that has me whirlybird teetered onto my ass after two local pissbeer bottles. Smiling.

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