Parched throat. That sinking feeling. I have been in the wrong queue these last thirty minutes. Did the guy really have to sneer so as he sent me away? Was that necessary? Wrong papers. When does paperwork work? I should have changed out of these big motocross boots before a border crossing. What was I thinking? I look a sight, striding about like a geriatric beast of the jungle. Each heel hits ceramic floor with an indelicate thud. And they squeak. Everyone stares. No local currency. Who do I go to change dollars? The least dodgy looking one. Hummn, now there’s a challenge. Where can I get water around here? Can’t trust the tap in the gents. Look for the boss and win him to my cause. Now there’s a plan. Good one. We’re a cut above the riff raff, the boss and me. Special. It’s understood. We’ll share a wink and between us quietly “expedite matters”, as we say back home where the privileges of caste are just as ingrained. Who’s the boss? Look for the most drunken one. Jesus. It’s a Sunday. Of, course no one’s here. He’s in a happy haze by now. I should know this stuff. I’m so thirsty. It’s so hot. They shuffle and I wait. There’s the deal. Should have taken off my riding jacket. Left it on the bike. Should have, should have. Oh for a world without my favourite should. The sweat is blurring my view and dripping onto the guy’s mas importante paperwork. I’ve done this before. Eternal repetition. Again and again. What other kind of repetition is there? There’s no learning some people. Perhaps there’s a drinking water fountain. How do I indicate that? Piss in an arch? “Yes I realize I need to go to a bank”. “No, I know the banks are shut today”. “Yes I realize now, that I can’t go to a bank, because they are all shut today”. “Thanks you. So kind”. “Agua, por favor?”
A rough ol’ lot the locals. I guess they’ve had to cope with plenty in the last decades. It was a tough crossing, with the first really dedicatedly unhelpful cops. And it’s got hot. Find myself called gringo an awful lot. Don’t know whether I should be taking it personally. The heat is a bit hard for me, so I am looking forwards to the Andean stretch.
Posted by at July 13, 2003 04:50 PM GMT
This happens a lot
Photo: Didier Martin