Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Slippery Slope in Crag-laden Northwest Argentina pt. 2 of 3

"Hey, Dude," my seatmate spoke to me in Spanish, "you want some yerba maté?" I was told that it was not just impolite, but that, in fact, it was rather rude to refuse an offered share of Argentina's most potently caffeinated tea. Yerba maté has a similar caffeine content to the coffee bean, and its drank directly though the leaves, filtered through a straw in a hollowed out gourd. Resultingly, I was faced with a handful of problems:
  1. I has just been abruptly awoken and I was NOT happy
  2. The second to last thing I needed was caffeine through potent tea on the first hour of my overnight, uncomfortable-bus-seat-burdened voyage, and
  3. The very last thing I needed was to burn the unspoken rapport between me and my bus-buddy that had already allowed me to claim over 2/3 of the shared arm rest
Also, I suppose that the ultimate-last thing I needed at this point was to have the bus stormed by pirates, but that was the least of my worries considering all my other woes. I didn't need the next 17 hours and 25 minutes to be spent in a constant battle for claim over the bordering land. It was at this point that I came up with a final decision, a decision which I had never used theretofore. I chose to pretend that I didn't speak Spanish.

"What?" I said in English. He motioned toward his tea. "Very nice." I said and turned to look out the window. He tapped my shoulder. Dammit, he was persistent.

"Querés?" He asked.

I needed to be persistent, too; "No sir, I would not like to caress your gourd," I mumbled in case anyone around us did speak English. He shoved the straw in my face. I surrender! This was to be a painfully long journey if I continued to surrender that easily, but I was clearly fighting a strategic war-master. I took gourd and a sip. My stomach grumbled. The dulce de leche desert from earlier had already not been sitting perfectly. I sighed.

"Great, thanks." I said to Eisenhower and handed it back. I found out that his name was less-fittingly Enrique, and we continued to engage in general discourse. I slowly began to turn my one word, curt, Spanish responses into lengthy Spanish monologues as the caffeine kicked in. My cover was blown. Enrique refilled his gourd with thermos and I refilled my vigor. We drank, talked and shared. Funny was when Enrique asked me some rather uncomfortable questions about American girls. Not funny was how much more uncomfortable my stomach felt than trying to answer his questions.

I had to excuse myself, "Pardon me, I'm going to go find the bathroom."

"It's not working."

Hoping he was talking about our newfound friendship I asked, "What's not working?"

Enrique neither assuaged my fears when he replied, "The bathroom," nor when he informed me that "we'll be stopping in only a couple hours for gas." I buried my head in hands and sighed again. Okay, I thought, I'll take a break, lean back and hopefully dream about a porcelain land with hills of toilet paper and rivers of hand soap. I pushed against my chair. It didn't move. I pushed harder. It didn't move harder.

"I'm glad you're here, friend, welcome to South America," Enrique said as he handed me some more maté.

[[Part three to follow. The horses, all the beautiful horses... hold on to them]]


Anonymous said...

im so excited what happens next!

Anonymous said...

we want more, we want more

Wolffystyle said...

I'll feed you, baby bird, I'll feed you. Tomorrow.