Category: South America

Argentina journal

High pass border, there’s a man in a shack that has rickety wooden double doors that let the whistling gale in, we chat, this solitary Bolivian functionary thumps the stamp and pats me on the back, thanks me for visiting his pais. Nearby a pole with a sign, another few K then over a small edge bump, suddenly Larry whrrr on pavement, asphalt, blacktop, I wasn’t necessarily longing for it, in fact I like it less, but it’s nice not to have washboards.

Transitions, boggling descents, hillfolds, soon riding in sunshine warmth headed to hot. The words are a little more articulated, but also snappier and with sh ch jjhuh sounds where I don’t expect, I have to focus and interpolate at pace, smartly trimmed roadblock police, calm friendly questions. I’m expectant for observing the source of gravity here, entering Argentina the back way, literally and metaphorically, Buenos Aires as distant from this landscape as Tokyo or Helsinki are. And for days it’s a swimming flotsam of impressions. Far greater wealth than Peru or Bolivia, of course, shiny pickups, zippy recent model cars, at one highway crossroad there is a gas station with an interior all of white and metal surfaces, could be at an off ramp in Missouri, panini sandwiches lined up waiting to be microwaved and the woman behind the counter in a smart polyester uniform. One day for breakfast I stop at the village corner shop and buy a wedge of divine cheese and a baguette and a square of chocolate, sit in the tree shaded plaza not particularly nostalgic for the empty tiendas of the last weeks. Soon I’ll be shuffling confusedly through a bonafide grocery store, frightened by the largesse. It all makes me feel more self conscious in my stinking riding clothes and permanently dirt infused shoes.