The lady with the big sunglasses steps inside the corner restaurant. The evening sun streaming in from behind lends her an aura of mystique, glamour even. As she gets closer the image frays. Another step and the sun gives way to the eatery’s strip-lit interior. The lady, teetering, makes her way over to the counter to beg for food.
Puerto Montt, Chile, a texture-lover’s dream-come-true. The wooden side-panel houses are nothing if not picturesque. Lime-green jostling with pink and brown, chipped and cragged. Always cragged. Over there, where the road comes rolling down the hillside like an oil leak. Over where the man takes miniature steps, carefully nurturing the small plastic bag with the yellowish liquid under his nose as if his life depended on it. Down below, the giant cruise ship hogs the bay.
The lady stumbles out, hot free lunch in hand. She’s mumbling something, but the Simpsons are playing on the TV, and the announcements in between are so loud I can’t smell my food, which is bountiful. ‘Fox +’ reads ‘Fox más’ in Spanish. I’m learning something every day. The new X-files are premiering at the end of the month. I can’t wait.
The sun’s almost gone now, but there’s enough light so you can see the volcano in the distance. It hasn’t roared in ages, but the houses remind one of what the earth can do. Always cragged, sagging. There’s only so much a thing or a person can take before so much becomes too much. On the opposite side of the busy crossroads the lady lies down on a knoll that should be sidewalk to take her dinner. She laughs, randomly pointing at cars and trucks and busses, and a limping dog.
I left my space-towel in the hostel in Bariloche. The kind of fabric that dries real quickly. You know in space, no one can hear you complain about stuff like that.