Traveling through Northwest Argentina had hitherto been enjoyable and relaxing. The clean and welcoming cities of the Salta and Jujuy provinces brought few feelings of insecurity. Yes, shockingly, the cities on the Argentine Altiplano were kempt. Overcome by a waitress’s congeniality I spent my last pesos on a recommended dulce de leche dessert and on a gracious tip. With empty pockets and a full stomach I quickly searched through town to find an accessible ATM before I boarded my bus back to Buenos Aires, but my labors ended fruitlessly and I raced back to the terminal to load my bag and squeeze into my seat just in time to begin the 26 hour haul back to the capital. Of course, at that particular moment, I was only expecting an 18 hour trip.
I sifted through my bag. My camera’s battery had died the night before but I pulled out my notebook to jot down memories from the past day. I was sure as lief to forget had I not taken the time to write down my experiences. It was customary and very easy for me to supplement writing with photography as each picture was worth, as the saying goes, at least sixty-five words.
My hand got tired as it often would. I had written about just the breakfast I ate the day before and I gave up. To pass the time before light ran out, I pulled out a few letters from my friend back home in Chicago. They served to remind me both of the luxuries I had left in the United States and of the reasons I wanted so badly to escape the country for a year. Overall, the letters, as I best recall, were humorous and helpful to pass the time on an uncomfortable South American bus commencing its overnight journey. I’d take this discomfort, though, anytime over the monotony of the Chicago Suburbs. This was new and exciting. In my haste boarding the bus I had forgotten to grab any CDs from my suitcase which was now secured under the cabin. We wouldn’t be stopping until morning, so I was without entertainment for the night. Thankfully, I am completely diurnal during long travel. As soon as the sun set, I expected to fall asleep. I rested my head on the window where I watched the diver-sun, slow-dived from noon, meld into the horizon creating a splash of golden light.*
My consciousness swept away with the daylight. There was to be no need for CDs or camera batteries where I was going, and darkness paved way to slumber. Ah, yes, sleep! I can write about its beauty incessantly. Sleep is the brilliant state where all possibilities became probabilities. Only, unfortunately for me, the probability of being awoken was near certainty. My lucid dreams were startled back into lurid visions of the man sitting next to me.
*Note: Thank you Herman Melville.