Hello everyone, and welcome to our new blog. I hope you like it! Lots of stuff is changing for us right now, what with the journey home underway, and we felt that this new format and style will better represent what we want to and is more suitable for what we plan to do with this blog in the future.
So, as we look forward, this particular post is a look back at how I felt when we were on the road nearly a year ago. We only had about a sixth of our current mileage under our belts and were entering into new uncertain territory. Anyway, I came across this in my notepad and thought I’d type it up and share…
That night we sway gently in our hammocks from the ribs of the huge truck, like young to its mother. The truck is still. The road is still. Still we move, still there is motion. We are suckling, sleeping, intermittently waking from the black exhaustion of hitchhiking to our dreams: of leaving Colombia, of Ecuador in three days, maybe two; of Christmas in Patagonia. An entire continent without a peso in our pockets.
Earlier that day we had relieved ourselves of the last drops of our money against a wall in the north. Soon we are chugging, hissing and winding our way high up into the Andes, 38 tonnes of salt and a gringo and a half headed south. Our driver, in true Colombian fashion, makes great advances down the spine of the country; the front of the truck illuminated with dozens of strobing lights as we lurch around blind, precipitous corners, over-taking rows of busses and camionetas, some giant dragon cutting through the fog on its migration south.
From our bed of salt sacks we can see the Andes only in sillhouette. Slats of light leak through our window of folded back tarp and deliver a light show in the giant belly of our beast. A base drum of yellow street lights punctuate our route; green red and blue in tandem with the thump of roadside music; and red and blue to send us scuttling from the police at check-points. Our driver is even willing to break the law to help us.
Everything has changed now. A strap of leather on the side of the road is a belt; a scrap of denim is months more life for my work trousers; a broken mirror in the bunkhouse is Emma´s good luck, a reflection of herself in a shard someone else´s life.
“Aren´t you ever worried?” One backpacker asks us after another. We are. There are toothpaste and condoms to consider, and a dwindling supply of tampons.
One cold day we are deposited in a small market town in southern Ecuador, tormented by the smell of warm, fried food. Against the wind the women hold down their trilby hats. They wear bright, bold ponchos and tights with plain, simple skirts, children papoosed to their backs. One women gives us some free empanadas. To her they are a simple gift of welcome. When we had money, these things were nice, they were table talk. Now they are gold, they are revelations.
To repay we fix clothes and gift art and work for free on farms. We stay for weeks, months. Our time is our gift. And though it´s awkard to admit, sometimes our presence is enough. To people who pick us up, who tell us they cannot afford to travel, we are proof.
Of course, sometimes there is no food, no ride. And in their absence rise hunger and thirst. The wind in the trees sounds like water, the ground offers only rotten fruit. But without uncertainty there is no hope and adventure fades simply to motion. The people of this continent are our guides. They take us into their homes and feed us their food. They tell us their stories and pass us one to another in a relay of endless generosity.
And here we are now, left again on the side of the road. There has been no traffic for some time. Between here and Peru lie only 100 miles of switchbacks. But someone else is coming. And no matter how far off they are they will pass this way.