martes, 21 de septiembre de 2010

"The Game": a beginners guide to picking up hitchhikers


Try as I might to scrape my mind of any residual memories from the crusade, which have recently been evading my pen, I am still missing pieces of the jigsaw puzzle. These pieces are undoubtedly fragile; you try desperately to file them away safely from any proceeding chemical that might try and wipe the slate clean. Incidentally, it this latter aspect that has engraved itself rather clearly in my conscience/fading conscience:

We had driven from Cachi (small village at the foot of large mountains and edge of large desert) to Cafayate (village in centre of valley filled with wine/the means to make it) for what seemed like six hours (because it had been) on what cannot be described as roads or even tracks for that matter. Yet, the Don ate them up and we flew past the chameleon views and diligently working saltanas who would rest down their sticks, had they been hitting a goat or cow, their hoes, had they been doing what ever it is you’d want to do with a hoe (the tool...garden tool that is), and wave at us. Naturally, we would wave back in a regal fashion ‘n’ all: one doesn’t bend the wrist but merely rotate the whole hand.

I have just become aware that my intentions were set on describing the “latter aspect”, but something has cropped up quite unexpectedly and so I think I’ll put ink to this memory instead:

We were not all that far from Cafayate, cruising along, leaving a wake of dust and, consequently, very dusty locals, when, low and behold, we approached some more hitchhikers (they tended to be people from the middle of nowhere looking to get somewhere). We had past a few already and had decided that were we to reach some more, we ought to give them a lift....only to make ourselves feel good, that’s what charity is all about (based on this, it doesn’t take a genius to work out what “charity starting at home” is all about then). Therefore, I pulled the Don to a stop and wound up my window so that they could hear but not touch me.

“Bonjour my little family of coco-pops, what be your destination? I am assuming you are looking for a lift?” I chirped brightly.
(Might I add at this point that my face was glowing with good-will and I wore a smile that said “hey little boys, don’t be a afraid, you can get in my car and we’ll go to never(have.I.)everland” but my mind and my compatriate’s both said, “Oh fuck, we’ve stopped the Don next to a mother and her three young children. One is a baby, the other two appear to be no more than five but, being in the country and a tad malnutritioned, are probably closer to twenty-four years old (mystery solved). Furthermore, they all seem to have avoided a shower/river for the past week and one of the kids has a nose that is functioning as a tap.”)
The family said nothing following my line of questions.

“Ummmm, ok. In which case, I will have a Quarter Pounder with fries and my co-pilot will have a Big Mac. Any drinks? Yes, thank you for asking, we’ll have two Coke’s please. Large.” I said to them. I was fairly pleased with myself. Too right, it was an amusing line, utterly lost, unfortunately, on are friends....the South American version of ‘Snap, Crackle and Pop’.
“We go to San Carlos please sir,” she eventually asked of us. She may not have added the “sir” but the narcissistic part of my mind (most of it, the section not focused on looking for a reflective surface) tends to translate and filter what comes in and out.
“Well, of course, by all means, hop aboard. To San Carlos then....I assume that’s on the way to Cafayate? If not, you WILL all have to evacuate the car and resume your places under that tree to our right.”I replied.
She then told me that it was.

I proceeded to try and make some conversation but we were white, wearing red and blue bandanas....it was all too much for them right now; the following ten minutes were spent in relative silence while the children stared at us in disbelief....we must have seemed like gods to them. I was absolutely fine with that. So, when they finally left, after filling the Don with the smell of poverty, I told them:

“Go forth in peace my little brown brothers and may the sun shine down on you whilst you labour diligently in a field.”
It wasn’t meant to be inspiring....we didn’t want them to get ideas about education, god forbid.

The next 10km were driven with halo’s of smugness...and windows of wide-openness.

Moral of the story: “charity pays...off”.

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