Sunday, June 2, 2013

2 June 2013

Argentine Road Trips

Driving to Mendoza
we chose the longer road
because Route 40 tended to flood.

Switchbacking down from Colomé
on yellow gravel & dust —
a surface so bad we didn’t
notice the flat tire
until the rim bent.
The rental car company said
fix the tire or buy a new one.
We spent a whole day
learning city streets & the language of tires —
gomería, where a man showed us
the tire shredded inside.
A new one from Goodyear wasn’t cheap
plus I left my diary there —
still, a week later
they were holding it for me.

Cafayate to Asunción
took three days in our new Citroën.
Three hours one evening we waited in
a mile-long line for gas.
30 kilometers we drove
on a freshly paved one-lane highway
where semis coming at us
forced us onto gravel shoulders.
At the Paraguayan border
customs stopped us —
No, you can’t drive across the border
even though you own the car.
For 50 pesos
Carlos in soiled Bermudas
let us park it in his yard —
we never thought to see the car again
but 30 hours later, there it was
dusty & unharmed.

Every drive, however short
involved the police —
Show me your papers
where do you live
where are you going
are you carrying fruit?
Sometimes two or three
uniforms conferred
in this generally idle occupation
part of keeping everyone employed
but never a problem
because we were gringo.

Driving back from hiking in Jujuy
dreaming of showers
after three days of dust & llama spit
we reached the final stretch
of the road home —
washed away.

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