Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Jose and I - Te cuento uno bajo el Misti

Jose worked at the garage run by the company. He had little or no mechanical background and was a quiet guy who was sure to mind his own business. He opened up a little and then some more. He picked up the trade real quick and was soon an asset. He was good with his hands and was given his own station real soon. 

Who would have known the mischief hiding behind those eyes. He turned out to be a very witty individual, in the simplest ways. Easy going and always smiling, he'd do his thing without being intrusive. The snide and the cheek was for those within ear-shot and only for those he chose to share the mirth with. There was something funny going on all the time in his world. Except when he got into trouble which he rarely did. He turned into a very worried person, downcast and apologetic when it did happen. But then I'm here to tell you only about the happy times.

Once, the company decided on participating in a show in another city. It was one of the largest cities after the capital and was up in the mountains. A regal but dormant volcano overlooked this city of cobbled, winding streets and adobe dwellings. Very touristy.

The truck was to carry the bikes, stands on which the bikes would be displayed and some other flashy paraphernalia to make the whole set-up appealing. I was to leave with Jose and go ahead to the venue - some 380 kms, partly on the Panamericana heading north. We were packed into the cabin behind the driver and his assistant, the co-pilot and we headed out. Once we passed the customs check post at dawn, we decided to head up and behind onto the trailer with the bikes. What a trip!

The stinging cold from the desert, from 25-30 ft above a beautiful stretch of road winding its way up into the Andes. The cold got to us through all the layers of warm clothes, the gloves and the leather jackets. Jose and I held on, bracing ourselves for each curve and every fresh gust of cold air. We saw vicuña herds far away, close to the foot-hills. We saw more peaks jutting out above the desert, some volcanoes. And we saw almost no one else. Traffic was light and far apart. It seemed as if we rode the truck by ourselves, in silence.

By the evening, our trip was punctuated with a few stops to warm up, eat up and fuel up. Arequipa was magnificent as we approached it at dusk. The Misti stood quiet and cold. There was plenty to do before we rested that night.


june said...

i love the way this is written. you should be a writer

tumunathan said...

Thank you June. I wish I had a bit of your conviction.