Wednesday, March 07, 2007

goodness gracious goodbye chile

In Santiago there were errands to be done and goodness gracious they propelled us around the city into places that the new sleek and speedy bus system never would have. There was a hunt for English language books. There were used bookstores in the bohemian district with English language sections that included old non-fiction with titles like ¨Is Male Mysticism Really Over?¨ And there were street vendors whose collections of English books included used calculator instruction manuals and issues of playboy from 1980.

The best of all was the hunt for another tall-person tire. We biked down to a street named San Diego and goodness gracious there were about thirty bike shops all lined up within two blocks. And on a hot Friday afternoon the neighborhood was kicking and hopping with teenage boys on trick bikes and middle-aged men wearing neon jerseys. There were shiny party, old parts, tricycles, skinny bikes, fat rims and spokes being sliced like butter. Because the stores were too narrow to window shop, and because all the shoppers had, of course, come by bike, there was cramming and squeezing of people and their bikes and this knocked over more bikes that were for sale and it was all a riot.

In Santiago we reminded ourselves that somewhere in the middle of biking miles of lonely roads in Chile and always being hungry and eating lentils for dinner, and then again for breakfast the next morning, (Matt added honey to his- I respected this because I think he´s an innovator- but do you think this improves the situation?) we had promised to have a cookie eating contest when we hit a town with a big store and cheap cookies. So, in an effort to fatten up before hitting the desert, we got competitive during our last night. The cookies won.

39 hours of busing later, we reached a town just on the border of Argentina and Bolivia - La Quiaca. We always scramble to the station and once our big fat bus arrives, goodness gracious, we rip off our bags, and flip over the bikes and twist off the tires and balance our pile of junk. Matt assures the driver that we did indeed buy tickets for this bus, and yes, we can fit the bikes and so we toss them in and cringe when they bang around. The first six hour bus ride was good and the next 19 hour bus ride was fine, but the last overnight bus really won. It was a stormy night and a leaky bus. So between the hours of two and five in the morning, Matt and Harris passed my rain jacket back and forth between themselves, each trying to arrange a few minutes of dry napping. Ben kept a stopwatch going to ensure that the time was shared evenly. So, we arrived and already things feel so different from Chile- people are out in the streets wearing colorful clothes, the air is thin and the bread is tasty. We cannot wait to be back on bikes tomorrow and breaking for Bolivia.

Lots of love to our families and friends. We wish we had all the spandex and extra spandex and planes and bikes and tents and free-time-coupons it would take to bring over everyone we miss and have you ride with us for a few days on bumpy roads. Special shout out to my uncle Talbot and grandmother Snooky for doing solidarity rides.


Blogger Penny said...

What's all this bus riding about? We just watched motorcycle diaries and had visions of you 4 crossing the Andes. Who knows what political action will result from this rite of passage?! Ben, the Galper boys are in awe and miss you and enjoy hearing about the trip. Be well and happy trails to all!

1:36 PM  

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