18.02.2008 - 18.02.2008
We set up our minimal sleeping stuff and ate in the moonlight that percolated through the forest, though traffic rumbled only 50 yards away, a steady stream of brakelights like mutant fireflies. We heard dogs in the distance, but the rustling of the pine trees eventually smothered their barking.. Still we slept with one eye open in the Pacific chilled air.
The next morning we had no problem catching a bus to downtown San Antonio where we ate a breakfast of bread in the central square among snoring drunks and shop owners opening the gates to their stores. A bus took through the port town across the estuary of the Maipu river, here used as industrial feedstock, but whose source lies a 20,000 feet above the ocean, crashing through the deepest canyons in world. As we walked into the countryside, Miles’s bag strap snapped. He tried to sew it back on but his thread wouldn’t hold. A taxi took us back into town to a tailor. Her needle couldn´t make it through the plastic without snapping.. We walked more and after several inquiries found a man in a shack filled with shoes. His chubby, stained face seemed to never leave the hovel, Inhaling the chemicals for breakfast lunch and dinner. In a matter of minutes with some glue and a sewing machine cranked by his feet he reattached the strap. We returned to the countryside and after unsuccessfully waiting for an hour, a passerby suggested we wait further up a crossroads. We did an a short while later, a late teenager in a Suzuki picked us up. He came from a well off family and either offered or wanted “weed” (his word, not mine) from us, but we couldn’t satisfy his request.
He dropped us at another fork, and from there we got a ride from a guy selling drugstore products. Ibruprofen, cough medicine, and bandages were strewn about even more than even a hypochondriac slob would permit. We crouched in the back of the van and I accidentally sat on some sunscreen, which splattered about. I cleaned It up by applying It to my arms. In a village Rapel, we bathed in the epononymous river and chatted with Chilean youth who shared their concoction of boxed wine and sugar drunk out of honeydew husk. From there, a water delivery truck driver drove us. Everyday he delivers water to a small hamlet on the coast. By the time we go to Litueche, late afternoon had arrived as did thoughts of taking a passing bus. Instead, I made Miles hike out of town across from some government housing. There a minivan picked us up. It was taking road construction workers home. They played the cheesiest of 80’s pop music and left us off about 25 miles from Pichilemu, supposedly a festive town with the best surfing in Chile. During the day, a particular garbage truck had passed us a couple of times. I saw it plodding down the road a third time and I didn’t expect it to stop, but it did. We hopped in. He had seen us throughout the day and finally decided, what the hell. It smelled like garbage, but probably not much more offensive then we did, so the odor was not overwhelming, and anyway it was completely appropriate. The truck couldn’t do more than 25 mph on a straightaway though down the hill we got up to 40, and it felt like a bucking bronco out of control. The guy, around our age, claimed It was easy to drive I thought about asking him to teach me, but decided against It.
The countryside around Pichelemu is reminiscent of the lost coast of Mendocino Country, verdant curvaceous hillsides, descending inevitably and gracefully into the deep blue. Doing this in a garbage truck made for one of the most spectacular entrances into a place I’ve ever experienced. Nothing like metallic beast and crushing parts, trash, natural beauty, and novelty to flood the senses and spirit. I was only able to snap a picture of the truck turning off after we disembarked. It’s a very ordinary but very personal photo.