Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Baby Dave comes to Visit, Part I

Baby Dave and me with Lincoln and our chin beards

We met baby Dave on the 8th of January after the epic 6-day bus journey from the Equator to Santiago Chile. In perfect Dave fashion, Elise and I found him on the sidewalk. A sidewalk cafe to be more precise. Alone? Never! Dave had made friends with two beautiful Canadians and was enjoying a light lunch under an umbrella in the mid afternoon heat of Santiago. It was terrific to have baby Dave come down to meet us. He brought us Christmas gifts too, M&Ms, extra batteries, soap, deodorant, assorted little goodies that one runs out of quickly on the road. We didn't exactly do much in Santiago, yet we had a brilliant time. Wandering around in search of places to eat, listening to plaza preachers, watching a Performance Art group do an organized dance with push-brooms, siestas in parks, cold sweating beers on a sidewalk at happy hour, a very fuzzy pool game with a cartoon character of a Frenchman (complete with mustache and a ridiculous hyperbole of an accent), and an awkward late night lost walk down prostitute alley. It was great catching up with baby Dave, having no set agenda, and slipping comfortably right back into step with him. I am blessed to have such a brother.

We left Santiago in order to spend an afternoon wandering aimlessly around the hills of Valpariaso. Colorful houses and classic cemeteries perch above the Pacific Ocean and a busy port. We lounged and watched the circus of tourist boats at the port, bumping and ramming into each other, boats crawling with people, people hopping from one boat to the next, lashing their boat to the neighboring one, fitting through impossible narrow gaps. It was very entertaining and the skippers quite ridiculous.

A Valparaiso cemetery

That night at the bus station while boarding our (very tardy) overnight bus to Pucon I saw a familiar face. Danielle, an Italian and fellow sufferer from Bruno's funny farm was getting onto the same bus! I was happy to see Danielle again, he was one of the very few non-complainers at Bruno's, never let things get to him, always had a smile and was quick fingered with a guitar. Danielle and I had shared a special moment at the farm, two months earlier and thousands of miles away from this crowded bus station. One day at Bruno's, during our daily coca break from picking oranges off the branches that Bruno was chain sawing over our heads, one of Bruno's former lovers showed up! As Bruno sprang up from the coca break to go join his newly arrived love, he called out over his shoulder that we should enjoy ourselves a bath in the river. He pointed through some bushes. Neither Danielle or I had been to this part of the river, yet we both new that it was easier to just do what Bruno said than not and have to explain it later. This is hugely due to the fact that Bruno's comprehension skills are less than adequate and when something doesn't make sense to him (denying a mid morning swim in a muddy river) he gets very confused and grunts and scratches his head.

So, we pushed our way through the bushes and ended up at a section of the river with a small, slow rapids section. As I was pulling off my shoes and socks, wondering just how naked to get in front of this Italian guy whom I had met a few days before, Danielle gingerly stepped past me, slid himself down the boulder we were sitting on, and plopped lazily into the cool water, stark naked. That move left me with little doubt, little choice. I too stripped, slid down the boulder, and plop, there were two. Two naked guys, barely more than strangers, sitting in some slow moving rapids in the Amazon basin of Bolivia at the request of some Belgian dude who has lost half his mind on cactus juice and stomped off into the woods to have a romp or two in his teepee with a former French flame. Needless to say, Danielle and I shared a special bond from that point forth.

This bus ride out of Valparaiso was also the first time we encountered Joe and Diesel. A couple of Australian love birds taking the long way home after having lived and worked in Seattle. We noticed them because they were speaking English and so when our bus still wasn't showing up we asked them if they new when (or if) it was. More on Joe and Diesel later...

Valparaiso's colorful homes

As the fates usually arrange for me I had a rather heavy lady with some sort of serious sinus issues sitting next to me and so I slipped in and out of sleep to the sounds of snorts, snores, and slurps. We woke on the bus in the morning to find that we had left the dry landscape of middle Chile and entered a lush forested region known as the Lake District. This brought us to Pucon. Rainy rainy Pucon. We had only intended to have a short stay in Pucon, climb the famous smoking volcano, look down into the mouth of it, cry our eyes out from the sulfurous gases and continue South. A recent avalanche on the volcano and the current rain were enough to hole us up for a while though. Luckily we found a great hostel with fantastic people. Rob the stoner Brit with an amazingly creative vernacular. John the old man who choked on his tongue while sleeping and chain smoked throughout the day. The three young Argentineans who slept on the floor of the hostel to save money. An Aussie girl who was rarely seen out of her bed. Some very cool owners with a nice dog and of course, Joe and Diesel, good solid salt of the earth people. And then the volcano opened, opened its doors to tourists once again.