Hoy salí a caminar, y me puse a cantar, porque tengo que tolerar, todo lo que me hace mal, tatarali tatarala, me puse a cantar, tatarali tatarala
So I cycle and sing and perform my mating dance, because I am glad that, in principle, I got where I wanted to, and despite of that, I still keep going. I am glad that my journey does not want to come to an end. That, perhaps, it will never be finished. Although, I do not know it yet. Nobody knows. Maybe there is something, some sort of energy that knows. Maybe guanacos knew and wanted to say something to me. They tried to pass me some understanding, but I, totally deaf to their words, did not understand anything.
I met another armadillo. It came to the crochet fox. The fox was sniffed, nudged, but finally it must have been taken as an inedible creature, since the armadillo reluctantly minced towards nearby bushes. I followed the animal, hoping to see another mating dance, but nothing of the kind happened. The armadillo just glanced at me, then it hid in thorny bushes and did not come in sight any more.
Then I met three ostriches. Two of them were alive, leaned over one dead comrade. They stood almost symmetrically on both sides of the unmoving body. Their bowed necks almost touched each other, forming a black heart-shaped outline that clearly fitted in that brownish background of the scorched landscape.
I stopped pretty close and took out my camera, but then the ostriches raised their little heads and began to flee. Not in such an ordinary sort of way, to which I got accustomed, but there was a kind of madness in their run, desperate frenzy and wild excitement, contrasting with that calm stretch of the Patagonian desert, which remained at a complete, virtual standstill.
One of the birds finally stopped, but the second jumped over a spiky fence and ran away, as if it was performing a demonic dance. It was running like crazy to the west, towards some misty mountain peaks, until it faded somewhere far away, surrounded by the remote rocky hills, undulating on the horizon.
I went to that dead ostrich. I took it from the road, wondering if I should dig a hole and bury it, but then I thought about another birds, and about armadillos, cause the latter do not mind carrion either. So, I left the body. I always felt sorry for ostriches. That they are birds, but cannot fly. Even if they try, they look like a running clumsy trunk without hands. And there was that ostrich on the road, no longer able to fly, nor even run. Nothing.
I was cycling south, enjoying the landscape and the wind, still pushing me forward, enjoying the last, several days, which remained to finish the trip. It did not even matter that the wind changed its direction and started blowing so hard that it took off my cap and although I instantly turned around to catch it, I could not see it. As if it had gone forever. Literally, the wind took my cap away, and I could not find it anywhere. It flew away.
The most interesting thing about that cap was that I found it in very similar circumstances, but on the other side of the world. I saw it on the roadside, picked it up, put it on my head and so it stayed. Or maybe it was the cap that found me? The wind placed it at my foot, blew it in with a blast, or perhaps its breath was enough…
I took a fancy to that cap very much so. It protected me from the sun, it hid my ears, and suddenly, the wind took it away and although I was walking around for a long time (which, after all, did not have any sense, because there was nothing but desert around me) the cap disappeared.
And then it occurred to me that maybe there was a purpose in it. The cap hid itself deliberately. It spent well over fifteen thousand miles on my head and then it thought: I’d like to dwell in that new countryside. In Patagonia. And who knows, maybe a hairy armadillo will find it and will take the cap to its lair. It will pad its burrow with my cap and then they will live together to the end of time. Or maybe another traveler (one of those who cycle north) will find it and take it back to the States? Such a simple cap, and, you see, what the high life it is living! It seems to have more life in itself than many human creatures on earth.
I’m not going any further, I feel cold on my head, I do not want to rummage in my panniers in that biting gusty wind, looking for another cap. Truly, I feel somehow weighed down and dispirited. Although it will certainly be possible to substitute it for another one. And anyway, it wasn’t me who got rid of it – it was the cap itself, who ran off. Or the wind took it. Or maybe its breath was enough…
I put up my stuff, eat dinner, stretch out the sleeping mat in front of the tent, lie down on it, look at the stars, fall asleep. A small ostrich came to me in my dream. I dreamed of a flying ostrich, which was wearing my cap. I ran after it and tried to catch it. Give it back to me! – I yelled, but the bastard was fast and agile, and although I tried hard I could not snap it.
The cap was too big for the ostrich. It covered the whole of its head. Then the other ostriches ran up, all in caps – thousands, millions of ostriches in the same peaked caps, and I was wondering which is the real, which is mine.
I set my sights on one small bird and ran after it and I almost had it, almost grabbed it by the neck. But when I was really close and nearly felt the bird, the ostrich flapped its wings and soared into the air, along with the rest. And millions of ostriches in peaked caps flew into the sky, flying, winged ostriches, soaring creatures from my dreams, Patagonian dreams of endless road – the road full of sunshine and millions of birds, doing their mating dance above my head. Performing their dance to which one day, a lost, soaring bird in a baseball cap will ask me to join.
Loneliness is glaring obviousness. It is a natural way of moving away from illusion. It is awareness of illusion and a natural rejection of any illusion whatsoever. It is like facing a black hole. It is the horror, and liberation from the horror. It is the tunnel to life. Edward Stachura
I decided to rest for a while in Caleta Olivia. I was on my last legs. I woke up in the morning, unable to get up. As if something crushed me to the ground. I lay on my back and felt a sort of strange form on my belly, too heavy to get rid of. I was able to move my arms and legs. The head seemed to be fine, too. I turned around and spat some red-green phlegm, which was accumulated overnight. I looked at the dense liquid. Definitely far too much red. Well, today, I would not go any further, I thought, and as soon as I got over a bit and was able to get up without Moomins’ help, I took my stuff down and went to the hostel. I spent one night there and then I came back to my previous lair to pitch my tent in the vicinity of the gas station.
Tonight I will be off again, I feel a little better. I’m itching for the road. It will be the night of the full moon. There will be another ostriches, guanacos, rabbits, and who knows, maybe under a huge, red cloud I will run into an armadillo. Or it will run into me. As it happened a few days ago, when a strange creature sniffed me when I was dozing off in the evening, after eating an enormous amount of not exactly fresh hot dogs (please, do not worry, I still have dough for chops, but it’s not so easy to buy them in the middle of nowhere).
So, I was dozing off in the cairn of stones – high enough to offer a saving shade and to protect me against strong winds, when something soft smacked my cheek. Not quite awaken, I waved my hand, thinking that it was just an irritating fly, but I touched something far greater and far more substantial than a green abdomen of an entomic comrade. I got up immediately. A big armadillo was running away. Maybe it took me for carrion, or a snake, it’s hard to say. Anyway, as soon as I moved, its desire to deepen our superficial acquaintance apparently passed away, and the creature decided to flee to its burrow.
I took my camera and ran after the fleeing animal. It disappeared out of sight. I was looking for it a long time, maybe fifteen minutes, maybe longer, and finally I found it close to its den. I lay down in front of it and waited. The sun was sinking towards the horizon. I was looking at a playful, vibrant snout. The armadillo came closer, it was almost a few inches away from me. It was glancing, waving its tail, sniffing something in the air. Maybe it wanted to capture my scent, maybe it was that scent, which intrigued the animal, or maybe something completely different, it’s hard to say. After all, armadillos do not need anyone to be happy. They live alone.
So, I was looking at that dancing creature, watching as it rotated. I stared at its strangely transparent claws, its vibrant snout, that mating dance, performed only for one spectator. I could not get over all that magic. The air was heavy with the approaching ghosts, while the armadillo was trotting, sniffing, twitching in a rhythm of silently stamping sounds, inaudible to anyone but itself. I cycled both Americas just to see a dancing, hairy armadillo.
The sun finally hid behind the horizon, and the blue clouds gathering above us turned into red. And it seemed to me that the armadillo also began to change its color and that it was not moving, but just stared at me, as if it had wanted to tell me something which could not be expressed by its dance. Ifgod is who you feel, he’ll slowly disappear into the red cloud.
Finally, It got completely dark, the armadillo disappeared in its burrow, but I could not get up. I could not move and preferably I would crawl into the burrow to touch the creature’s snout, to curl up and go to sleep.
I was lying there until I was cold. Then, I put up my tent under a canopy of twinkling stars. And when I was falling asleep, just a moment before I welcomed new, nightly dreams, it seemed to me, that among the rustlings of the tent, quietly flapping in a soothing wind, I caught the whisper of unintelligible sounds. The sounds, which some hairy armadillos tried to sing in their desperate dance. Silently and in fact – vainly. Because neither the melody of that song nor the meaning of its words is understandable any more. Unless for a dreamy armadillo. Under a canopy of red clouds.