Just as I expected, getting out of bed for the bus today was pure torture. I am the most apathetic, illogical person when it comes to putting my feet on the floor in the morning. Despite the fact that I would be totally screwed, I still am not at all inspired to move. Not to mention that my intestines where whining about yesterday’s poor choice (churro? avocado?) that made my stomach churn like the sea.
I did make the bus, however. “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac has been keeping me entertained in my down-time since Cuzco. He is teaching me a great lesson in passive voice which my writing has always been riddled with. Perhaps a direct reflection of my speech pattern? His musings about life among the poor in the 50`s also serve to remind me that poverty exists everywhere. Even in the states, there are families living eight bodies deep in a one room shack. When I wasn`t reading, I admired the landscape which was finally gaining a bit of personality. At first, 7:30 a.m. outside Antofagasta, desolate coastal mountains engulfed the landscape with their depressing grey-brown. By 10:30, Calama made the change of pace. Tumbleweeds, and only tumbleweeds, begin their careers here. By 11:30 the desert finally became a glorious thing again with grooves and peaks and valleys and rainbows of earthtones – brown, tan, red, orange, pink, purple, yellow, scattered across everything in bleak contrast with the blue sky and the occasional chalk green desert plant. The white sand that provided the canvas for everything else was anxious to reflect every color the sun had to offer. I hear it’s gorgeous here at sunset! My ears endured the agony of yet another Andean descent and the moon hung eerily in the sky as we descended on San Pedro de Atacama where the fences are made of mud bricks formed into steeples at the top. Weeds and cacti grew atop the fences, nature`s barbed wire! By 3:00, the tough yellow grasses of the eastern Atacama appeared, and white/grey clouds took the sky by storm.
We stopped at the Argentinian entry point, and I did a triple-take as I found myself singing to the song playing in the back ground. One of my favorite country songs (I LOVE country music!) about enjoying all the wonderful little things life has to offer was pouring out of the speakers somewhere. “Raise a little hell, laugh til it hurts, put an extra five in the plate at church, call up my folks just to chat, It’s time that I make time for that, Stay up late, then oversleep, show her what she means to me, catch up on all the things I’ve always missed, I won’t break my back for a million bucks I can’t take to my grave, Go for a walk, say a little prayer, take a deep breath of mountain air, put on my glove and play some catch, It’s time that I make time for that, wade the shore and cast a line, pick up a long lost friend of mine, sit on the porch and give my girls a kiss.” I was so happy I almost cried. Weird, I know. I think it was just suddenly having one of my very favorite pieces of home that reminded me of all the wonderful things I have to look forward to in life.
I figured out that the music was coming from the television… welcome to satellite t.v.! One of the customs guards, gun, bullet-proof vest and all, noticed me lingering and invited me to sit down and listen to the music. “Today, you work for Argentina!” he said with a wink and smile. I translated the song for him and explained to him how funny it was that I loved that song and really dislike the singer (Toby Keith). Those five minutes seriously made my day.
We arrived in Salta only to be greeted by hordes of hostel hawking folks, and I trudged through the crowds in search of the morning departure for the other side of Argentina. I only have five days and still lots to do!