the scientific name for air that moves is wind and when this scientific name takes you from the far right side of the road to the ditch on the left, completely against your will mind you, you know it´s time to stop and call it a day because the next time that happens some guy in a uniform may be scraping pieces of you off some headlights for a dna test sample, the results of which will make your family´s knees turn to jelly when they receive that phone call we all fear to one day get.
you can get cell reception here and there´s the sign to prove it in case you doubted me
a tent in this wind is simply an impossibility but i saw a big farm with a white house and i pushed and pulled my bike to it and knocked on the door and hoped and waited and the most beautiful sight my eyes ever beheld opened the door, a farmer´s daughter as it were, and i could barely remember why i´d knocked and my horrible spanish was even horribler and come to think of it i doubt i could have even spoken a word of english, i was so taken with her. but i finally came to and asked, hoping to high heavens i wasn´t unknowingly making some sort of spanish proposition, if i could sleep there. she was very kind and smiled and laughed and sort of shook her bangs out of her eyes and i was splitting at every seam i have but in the end she gave me the answer i am used to getting whenever i ask a woman anything which was - yes, of course - ¨no.¨ but, she said, i should ride further on this little dirt road, over a mountain, and there was a house there with some people that she thought i could ask and camp in their trees. and that´s what i did because that´s what she told me to do and after all, i was in love with her anyway.
this glacier was cracking and breaking and sloughing and creating all sorts of wild waves and i loved it but then i met this guy who introduced himself as the king of spain and he educated me and said that the technical name for all this stuff was ¨calving.¨ i thanked him for the information but, the truth of it is, people like that really annoy me.
so i followed this road which of course branched into a million limbs and i didn´t know where to go and i started cursing, just a little though. well, i finally found the house my love had told me about and it didn´t look like anyone was there so i was just going to roll the dice and pitch my tent beside it regardless, but then i met an old man and it made me very sad because when i tried to shake his hand i realized the right side of his body was mildly paralyzed and he couldn´t really move his right arm but he extended his left one instead and i shook it trying not to be awkward about the whole thing but then i realized he was probably used to doing that so that made me feel a little better. i told him my story and he told me not to worry about fooling with my tent, that i could have a room inside and just sleep on the floor. ¨might rain,¨ he said.
god´s ice cube
i thanked him and came in and learned that he was the cook on this farm and he was whipping up quite a meal and doing all this with just one good arm and i admired him and wondered what he was like as a kid and if his arm was good then and if it was what had happened to make it bad but i didn´t ask him, i was just thinking about it. well, we talked for a while and he showed me where the bathroom was and he was very welcoming and i liked him but he had to get back to his stew.
what´s more striking, the scenery or my handsome self? that´s not rhetorical folks...
i went to my room and laid out my stuff and read a little bit and wrote in my journal and i thought about that old man and i moved both my arms, just to check, and they moved just fine and then i started thanking god for all the things i take for granted. and while i was doing this i started thinking what it would be like if i lost the ability to blink and how my eyeballs would just dry up and i´d go blind and this made me nervous so i started blinking real hard and deliberately just to be sure everything was working and it was so i thanked god again.
also i just listened to that wind roar and marveled at the invisibility of it. it was such a relief to have air around my body that wasn´t moving, i can´t tell you.
for two points, what is this?
some time passed and i´m still trying to find a way to prevent this inevitability because sometimes i feel like i´m spiraling towards my death and no matter what anyone tells you being dead is something that is impossible to imagine. anyhow, this kind old man of course offered me some of that stew and i felt so sorry having to refuse it on account of the meat. i told him how i´m a vegetarian and he didn´t really get it, so i explained that if i ate meat i would get sick, but this made me feel sad, because the thing is, i´m not sure if that´s really true. i´m fairly certain it´s true because one time in a restaurant in ecuador i ate some beans that were promised to me to be meat free but a couple spoonfuls revealed they really weren´t and oh dear lord how the next day was something fierce and i lost count of how many holes i dug that day, but what i´m saying is that i can never prove the cause and effect, i mean, maybe i drank some bad water. so i wasn´t sure if i lied or told the truth but the possibility that i lied made me sad.
¨now boy, you listen and you listen here. you listening? you done better be. it´s high time you got your head out of them thar clouds filled with all them foolish dreams of yours. you better cut that rat´s nest off your chin, get tame, put a tie around your neck and get you a job and do something with your life boy! dang it boy! it´s high time, i say!¨ luckily, my father has never said this.
so i awkwardly ate my own food and i could hear those unslaughtered cows thanking me but all i could think was that their time was coming just like my time is. i told the cook and the farmhands goodnight and retreated to a cement floor and curled up in my sleeping bag like a little larva and slept fitfully plagued by things for which there is no cure.
now there´s a cute little larva in a drainage culvert under the road because it was the only gold-blessed place i could find out of the wild winds. it was kind of like being in a coffin.
well, there wasn´t a a hint of wind in the morning so i packed up hurriedly because i knew it wouldn´t last. and so i was very angry at myself when i walked all the way to the toilet which was outside and then realized i forgot my toilet paper because i had to waste wind-free cycling time to go back and get it and in my rush i accidentally left the door to the kitchen open and a cat dashed in and laid smack dab up against a heater and started meditating and i didn´t have the heart to make it go back outside and i hoped the old man wouldn´t be mad. i finished my business and the old man was up and the cat was still there so i figured it was allright anyhow. i thanked him again and was on my way.
the land of fire. the end of the road looms. it´s too close and i keep putting it off. what does it all mean? have i really done anything? has anyone ever done anything?
so i was riding and it was still early but of course these patagonian winds were picking up as they do and then i saw a sign for a side trip to a national park called blue lake and so i turned my handlebars and went asking myself why not.
food in my trailer for a long haul. hope it´s enough..........
the thing was, it was a spectacular surprise. not just a lake, but a lake in the crater of an extinct volcano with all sorts of colors and a gazillion million birds and cliffs and even a volcanic arch and also some caves too. so i was feeling happy and i told myself i think i´m going to call this place home tonight. so i shuttled, quite difficultly, all my stuff over a blasted barbed wire fence and i cursed that fence when i cut my arm on it but my tetanus is up to date so i got on with life putting my faith in clear liquids that were squirted into me with needles that were hopefully clean.
........well, it wasn´t quite enough food but that´s okay because these nice brazilians stopped on their own accord and styled me out with fruits and veggies and it´s things like these that give me faith and faith is something we all need or so i´m told
but calling this crater lake, that i found myself pretending i had discovered, home and actually having it be my home hinged on finding some sort of something to act as a wind break because that´s the thing about patagonia. everywhere you look is a perfect campsite, and nowhere can you pitch your tent and still expect it to be there in the morning. i´d been warned but figured, like most things in life, it was blown out of proportion.
run little fox, run. i marvel at you and i love you but i wish you to fear me. because soon there will be crosshairs on your temple and your tail will embrace some rich woman´s neck so she can impress people and that finger with an itch will clutch some capital s´s with vertical lines slashed through them because that´s what a human´s life is about and the buzzards will peck you away.
so i took a walk around the rim of the crater looking for some little nook or cranny to tuck my tent in and my hopes were down but then i found a little place, slanted as a son of a gun, but doable and protected from the wind by a giant volcanic stone. so i got my bike over there and after some minor cursing got the tent up and tossed all my possessions inside and was quite pleased with myself and those birds were just honking and tweeting away and there were so many of them and i smiled.
now i hope those giggling ladies that saw me skinny dipping realized how cold the water was
i grabbed my book which is the bible these days and walked deep down into that crater and had a look at the lake and what a lake it was and the day was so beautiful and everything just seems to be too perfect as of late which of course gets me concerned and worried as to what will go wrong...it´s always something with me and i tried really hard not to think like that but still did because it´s hard to change my ways.
i found a nice little patch of soft grass and laid down and had a rock as a pillow and i opened that bible and thought about jesus and how he´s rolling his eyes at us all and i just read and then i´d wake up. now i wasn´t falling asleep because the bible was boring although i do find some parts boring and i hope it´s not sacreligious to say so, it was just that everything was so peaceful! so i´d wake up and find my place and start reading some more and then i´d wake up again. i´ve read the bible before, well, parts of it, but it´s like everything, when you do it again you´re in a different place and everything takes on a new meaning.
now i could write something here about global warming and how this glacier is melting and receding like at no other point in history but let´s leave all that banter for another day, shan´t we?
well this lazy day went on for some time and then i heard a sneeze that wasn´t my own and i looked up to the rim of the crater and saw two people and i figured, well, i guess i have to share this place. but they just stayed up on the rim for less than five minutes and hopped back in their car and went off to wherever it is that people go. the vista was enough for them and that was allright with me because, to be honest, i was in no mood for pleasantries.
sometimes, this be the road
all that reading and napping got me itchy to move so i stood up and climbed out of that crater and almost cried from the pain because i was in my sandals and all these little razor sharp volcanic stones were getting wedged underneath my feet and i really do have sensitive soles.
how i will miss this life.....god how i will miss this life
so i went back to my campsite and how high the sun still was in the sky! so i got out my sleeping pad and did some yoga and tried to meditate but kept getting distracted. anyhow, at one point, there i was standing on my head and i thought how if someone came walking down this path they´d think i was a madman but i just stayed on my head nonetheless and no one came so it didn´t matter anyway.
what? you thought i was kidding? yoga time is any time...at a lake, in the middle of the road and oh so many other places
the winds died down just slightly and it was enough so that you could hear the air in the feathers of all those birds as they flew and i´ve always loved that sound and i remember the first time i ··really·· heard that sound it was with a raven in the deserts of utah and i always think of that when i hear a bird fly near me.
see my bike?
then i started working on a story i´m writing and there i was just laying down with my back against a rock and typing away and listening to those birds and sort of wishing i was one. and then a family pulled up off in the distance and it made me very glad that they went down to the lake to have a look around and they stayed there for quite some time and they were all laughing and throwing rocks in the water and running here and there and it was amazing how well i could hear and see them and they looked so small and i sort of put my finger in front of my eyes and started thinking that they were really little people and really trying to believe that but i never did because i knew it was just perspective no matter how hard i tried to think like a kid again. well, just being on that rim looking down on this happy family made me sad. they never knew i even existed and that was just as well.
mother mary and the mountains
so i got back to typing some more but then my fingers stopped so i did some more yoga and i felt better about things and then the family left and i thought about the fact that i somehow had shared in their experience with them and everything got really bizarre as i just sat up there on the rim at my little vantage point but soon enough i couldn´t hear their car anymore and so it was just me and the lake again and though the sun was still up, i decided to go ahead and get in my tent and lay down on my back and read some more so that´s exactly what i did. besides, it really was getting late, it´s just these days this far down south are getting longer and longer.
soon after, i got out my bread and jam and peanuts and chocolate and cookies and crackers and raisins and i was very sad because i didn´t have any yogurt or fresh fruit. i ate and read and brushed my teeth and took the last pee and then just laid there for a while until sleep came and it´s those intervening moments that i love because, even though you´re on the verge of falling asleep, actually, you are more awake than ever.
in antarctic territory these days
well dang it all to high heavens if that wind didn´t pull a gawd-blessed 180 on me and i woke up to my tent just a flapping and flopping all around me and i got nervous down in my stomach and unzipped a million zippers and went outside and tightened everything up and was cursing some too but not too bad. i also peed again, taking the winds into account, so i think i must not have gotten it all out when i mentioned taking the last pee.
that sign means wind and the wind down here means business
then i got back inside my tent and zipped everything up and said, well timmy (sometimes i call myself timmy), let´s ride this tempest out. and i couldn´t sleep for anything until of course i woke up later and realized i had indeed drifted off and that the winds had relaxed just a bit. then i slept hard only waking up when those birds for whatever reason got to honking and hooting in the middle of the gold-blessed night and when they woke me up i sort of got angry with them and that´s something i now regret.
i didn´t really start moving the next morning until the sun was over the horizon and right on my tent. i pooped in a hole i´d dug the evening before, as i really am a planner. i slowly packed up because it was just such a nice spot and was so beautiful and all those birds were flying everywhere that they go.
this is a different lake. don´t worry, it will be ruined soon. they are currently building a mine near it.
i rode back out to the main road and i was closer than i thought to the argentina - chile border and all the military guys were excited to see me and i had to keep remembering not to mention that i started in canada because then i have to explain my passport which of course begins in bolivia seeing as that´s where my original passport was stolen, amongst many other things. but i try not to think about those other things, because if i do, it gets me very sad. so anyhow i kept telling myself, now hirsch, just say yes or no, don´t cluster everything up with unnecessary details. but sometimes i found myself clustering it up, because when it all comes down to it, i really am quite chatty. now don´t worry, i didn´t ·lie· about where i started, i just didn´t come right out and say that i started in canada because then a gazillion passport stamps that i should have i don´t and what should have taken ten minutes takes a gold-blessed hour.
what a night this was
i got all my stamps and was glad i had them because right when i walked out a monster bus full of jokers unloaded and i would have been there an eternity if i was just two minutes later and i was very glad i´d pre-dug that hole for my morning plop because that was the vital two minutes right there, but then i told myself you can´t think like this because you never know.
anyhow, these bus people that were waiting in this mile long line were nice enough and soon they wanted to have their picture taken with me, mostly women, not surprisingly. it´s tough being as handsome as i am, because - now listen, i´m telling you - every married or boyfriended woman that lays eyes on me instantly realizes she made a mistake. but this is just one of those facts of life and what can i do? so i kept posing, something i´m awfully good at, with all these women and then, as a joke, i yelled, ok, now each photo is going to cost ten pesos! and i thought that was pretty funny until the saddest thing in the world happened because this lady that i still had my arm around as we waited for the flash with those dumb looks one gets when staring at a camera, well, she started reaching in her purse for ten pesos! and i felt so bad and told her i was only joking and then we both laughed and so it was ok. one lady, however, did give me chocolates which i accepted with pleasure.
i can only hope that some hollywood stars come down here and start building houses. that´s what makes a lake beautiful, you know, houses.
then it was off to the chilean border which took a while but there was no fanfare and nothing really to report other than that i was granted entrance and what relief i feel when that stamp is slammed into my passport and it´s handed back to me and i can get on my way and so i took off and by now the winds were ripping again but they were right at my back and i was just flying and loved it and thanked god for everything.
my shadow in the river. i stayed here a while until i myself started feeling short of breath and panicky and everything got blurry and i saw some leprechauns in a cellophane world with so much glitter i had to squint and i was convinced i was a glass of orange juice filled to the rim and wouldn´t move for fear of spilling my insides and after it was all over i really started to question that cactus juice i´d drunk.
soon after, i found a sheltered bus stop and i stopped there to eat and dry out my tent and get out of the maddening wind and read and think about some things. there are always things to think about.
a bit further down the road i saw a little restaurant with a kind little lady inside who thankfully sold me some apples and vegetables and she charged a very fair price and also let me use the toilet which was a nice treat but the seat was cold and i got the goose bumps.
shadow, shadow, tell me true, if i am me, then who are you?
not long after that i had to put all my stuff on a ferry and cross the strait of magellan through the atlantic ocean, an ocean that up to that point i hadn´t seen in almost ten years. i got on the boat and everyone else stayed sealed up tight in their cars but i walked all around and climbed some stairs and looked out on the ocean and put a foot up on the railing and, surveying everything, said, ¨ayyeee matey!¨ i really did say that too but no one heard me so it was fine.
i love this life
back on the bike and it was windy and clouds were rolling in and i had some music on and was, quite honestly, singing at least as good as the guy in the headphones. i looked up and thought, i think it will rain tonight. and where i am is just wide open and flat and nothing and gorgeous and only perfect for camping if there were no such thing as wind but there is such a thing so i wondered what i´d do and i didn´t know so i just rode.
yes! i stopped every ten feet and kept asking how? why? and then i realized who cares? and i laughed and rode on!
well, i must have the faith of a mustard seed because wouldn´t you know it if there wasn´t a little shack about 100 meters off the road! i went and had a look and hell´s bells if there weren´t bunk beds - no mattresses, a table and chair - that i´m writing on now, and even a little place to have a fire - which i didn´t have! and there´s a window and a door and when i saw this place, now i´m not a dancing man and every fading friend i have will agree with this, but when i saw this place, i danced! so i stopped and unpacked and did some more yoga and there i was on my head again and some cars passed but i don´t think anyone saw me or if they did they didn´t give a darn.
and so here i am in my own little cabin preparing for another lonely night and i´m filled with so many things that i want to say but i think these things are best saved for another day so, if it´s all the same to you, i´m going to watch this sphere swallow the sun and lay my head down.