More than often we have travelled in countries where we did not understand the written or spoken language. You get use to it and become accustomed to the situation like you acclimatise from living in Eskimo country and that of the hot tropics of down town Mareeba. (I just thought something brilliant! Is Esky called Esky because the Eskimo invented such a box?) I usually tell friends and fellow travellers that it is not a problem not understanding a different language. Language consists of many aspects. There is always a way of explaining your situation and your needs. If you can’t get your message through me automatic switch to and add body language. If no good I start drawing on a piece of paper or if really desperate in the sand of the desert. Then if that doesn’t help I use my imagination and visualise that the person I am communicating with got the message and all is good.
The camping trip in the Andes was coming to an end. We had three months of wild camping in Chile and Argentina at deep blue lakes, wild and roaring rivers, paddocks covered in wildflowers, basic camp grounds full of lovely caring people sometime dancing a Tango or two, along sandy tracks in the dessert, up high in the beautiful mountains next to active volcanoes, and in deep green valley’s full of fairytales. It was a most stunning trip. One of the best ever! However the camping trip had to come to the end so we could enjoy new beginnings. We were on our way back to Santiago in Chile to the travel agent’s office from where we hired the car. Looking for a place to pitch the tent for the last night proved very difficult. First of all we had left the countryside and were mainly driving in build-up areas with no camp ground in sight not even a place to pull over.
Chile is a very narrow country which since childhood was one reason for me to go and have a look at a country that stretches 4,270 km from north to south and on average 177km from east to west with the broadest point just north of Antofagasta. It is just so unusual and it leaves you flabbergasted. Also I was taught at school that people in Chile picked up seabird droppings to be exported and used as fertilizer around the world. It is the Guanay cormorant that pooh on the rocks at the beaches. That’s imperative knowledge for a young child. I am glad that I learned this already while in year 4. The droppings are called Guano and are accumulated excrement of seabirds and bats. I ogled at Wikipedia to see what the contents could be for such a delicate thing as seabird droppings! Well there you go it contains nitrogen-rich ammonium oxalate, phosphates, some earth salts and impurities such as maybe shrimp and plankton poo as I presume that this could be a part of the diet and a healthy diet indeed for these seabirds and bats. By the way I saw the movie “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” when quite young and now I just wonder if he also contributed to the heap of bird excrements in Chile! Maybe I should read the book before I continue with my story. If I go on rattling like this much longer I can guarantee that this will be a very long story.
It started to rain and very soon rather heavy. That sort of dampens the camping spirit for one thing and just the thought of having to pitch camp in heavy rain was not the best thought you could have in your mind. I am known by friends to be a bright person. That’s why I like these friends! For sure I remember coming through this small town we are just entering three months ago noticing a sign advertising cheap accommodation in Cabanas. A cabana is a hut sort of a thing also called a cabin.
I thought I was brilliant! To be honest I am Brilliant! If we could have a cheap cabana we did not have to put up tent and we did not have to get wet and our sleeping gear did not have to get wet and we could stay dry as we cooked dinner and we could sit in comfortable chairs at a dining table and eat dinner without getting wet. I cheered up Peder with my great welcoming news. Peder did not believe me. That’s OK I don’t always believe him either. However I knew that I was right. I recognised the small town and then we saw the sign. Cheap Cabanas for rent! I was in heaven! Imagine us being safe from the now very troublesome weather.
We rolled into the driveway of this orderly looking place chain across the drive and a sign instructed us to sound the car horn. Beep, beep! Did you notice that? No writing but a drawing to tell you to sound the car horn. Beep, beep! There must be a genius or wizard at work that’s for sure. Remember what you just read about me. If everything else fails just make drawings or scribbles on a piece of paper! So we sounded the car horn and a young and very handsome man came out from his office carrying an umbrella. Clever thinking 99! He escorted me to the office where we negotiated the price for the night and I settled the account cash in hand. He then directed us to one of the cabanas and each cabana had a fence type of a gate which he opened and signalled to follow. Car parked I got out as the young and very handsome man was about to leave and with body language I explained that I wanted to see the cabana first. The two of us went inside. Clean as a whistle. I went to the toilet clean as a whistle and pointed at the hot water tap in the shower. The young and now even more handsome man showed me a sign meaning 24 hours hot water. What more could you ask for!
We moved in! It was already rather late in the day or should I say it was actually early evening and Peder was eager to get on with some cooking so out came all our cooking equipment. We had a small gas stove in the car but since the cabana had a pot belly stove as a centrepiece why not fire her up. Still heavy rain outside I found my oilskins jacket boots and all and I went looking for twigs and small branches in the garden to fire up the pot belley.
I just love young handsome men and this time the young and handsome man from the office came out holding the same good old umbrella as before and handed me a small box. Golly I have only been here very short time and he is giving me a present. This is better than any of H.C. Andersen’s fairytales! It’s even better than any of my stories too! Mind me asking. Have you read them all? I opened the box and look. Big smile formed on my face. He had just given me the best present ever. Small kindles old newspaper and a box of matches. I thanked him heaps in the best Spanish I could articulate and headed home with a surprise for Peder.
Peder was not surprised and not at all impressed and he was saying that something was wrong about the place and the price I paid for the night. Old mumble grumble fellows can get lost in the bushes! Being very nice I just told him to be happy being out of the rain in a nice and cosy cabana on his last day of a brilliant road trip. And so Peder kept chopping food for stir-fry and salad as I went to do my business of getting the campfire organised. And I am good at it. I love fires small as well as huge. Ups don’t get me sidetracked dear reader or you will be reading a biography very shortly.
We were kept busy for a while and then there was a knock on the door. I looked at Peder. Peder looked at me. Somebody has to say something so I asked Peder if he was expecting any visitors here in this part of the world heavy rain and no key for the door. Nope he said. Just like that.
I wasn’t expecting any visitors either but someone has to be brave and open the door and make a welcome. Here he was the most handsome young man who not long ago gave me a very precious present. I understood that he said a few preliminary sentences that I did not understand. Does that make sense? His speak flowed into a blur in my mind and I was not sure what he wanted at all. He left me there starring out in the dark facing the rain not sure what to think or what to do.
You have no idea what is like to be a blonde! Left in the dark by a most handsome young man! It didn’t take long and he was back knocking on the same door and the same blonde went to answer. Heaps of words articulating and the only thing I could think was to say “I am sorry I don’t understand your language” Here we go! You got good memory I told you it doesn’t matter. Actions speak louder than words. He got out his best body language and showed me the sign of “Time out”.
Gosh! Time out sign is a sign you use in sport. When it is time to change key player or somebody is injured. I still didn’t get the message and so he left handsome as usual. What a Darling!
Next thing another knock on the door and this time you could sense that it was not the handsome young man knocking. Who could it be? Well it takes a blonde to open another door to let in another stranger and this fellow he was from Germany. He spoke very good English and he said that it was time for us to departure. “Departure”! I said. “We only just got here”!
The German then said: “There has been a misunderstanding”.
“Sure” I said “a huge misunderstanding”.
“Yes” he said “this establishment is a whore house where you bring your own sexual object. You paid for two hours and time is up. Most people are Roman Catholic in this country. They do not believe in divorce but have come to terms with rooting around! You need to leave being Friday night I am fully booked. Pack up your blinking vegetables and get out of here!” That was not a very nice thing to say to Peder. He has been a chef most of his life! And his food is delicious!
I have always been a diplomat and good at it so I challenged myself to suggest some negotiations. With my best poker face I asked the pimp what it would cost two innocent travellers from Australia to stay for the whole night in his wonderful establishment.
Way too much! I killed myself laughing at the same time telling the pimp that user of social media such as Facebook, WeChat, QZone, Twitters and Instagram you name them they will get to know about this establishment and they aren’t going to like you! We packed up all Peder’s finely chopped vegetable not to forget his garlic and away we went. Ready to drive out of the gate the young and ever so handsome man came to undo the chain umbrella still in hand. As we drove away I turned my head and waved to him our faces breaking into big smiles. What a farce!
It took a long time to find somewhere to stay. The pimp was right Friday is a busy root day floorboards bouncing off bed poles, mirrors screaming with horror sperm all over the cushion covers. We had to continue towards Santiago to avoid too much driving the following day. Finally about 10pm we rolled into a same sort of looking establishment as the pimp place. A lady came to greet us and I explained that we had not come to root but to sleep not only 2 hours but 20.
She understood perfectly well our situation. We negotiated a price and out came Peder’s chopping board! There was not much of a kitchen on hand but who cares dinner was already almost prepared. Got the gas stove out of the car. Peder managed with a small coffee table in the middle of the rather large bedroom and as he said: I have never cooked food in an establishment like this with so many mirrors on every wall and in the ceiling. We both slept really well and got rid of the car the next day.
What happened to the Tango?
Somehow and much later even years later we ended up in Buenos Aries and we had many an opportunity to indulge in the Tango world. One of them at La Boca a colourful suburb full of whore houses most of them in the pink. Fornication and adultery vibrations oozing out of the cracks in the walls. Sensual Tango dance performed in the streets, at the pubs and restaurants. The place full of locals as well as tourists also called Rubber Necks, people hunting for excitement. Tango lessons for the game.
Watch out for pickpockets and don’t leave the main streets of La Boca even in daylight. This is very reassuring but a great warning especially for the first time traveller. For sure if you are a blonde watch out for the young handsome men!