12 hours in a van with an exploding radiator. The began in the false, giddy energy of late night driving- david at the wheel and me in the passenger seat. We alternated between riotous laughter (the kind that hurts, the kind where you actually want to stop laughing, the kind that makes the two would-be sleepers in the backseat glare) and incredibly strained silence (the kind I'm not so good at) as we listened to the truck hiccup and watched the temperature gauge go from 0 to 60 in under 5 seconds. Yes we were trying to drive the spine of Chile, at 1:30 in the morning, in a truck that was responsible for the evaporation of 65% of dave's sanity. The first time the truck died, we coaxed it back to life and limped back onto the road, we figured our chances of actually making it to Pichelamu were nil. This posed some serious logistical head-scratchers, considering all the kids were up ahead cruising along happily into night, their precious little eyes closed, dreaming of the 20 foot breaking waves they had been promised. Snuggled in cozily, warm and content in their comfortable camaraderie, built by 6 months together on the road.
Actually, the van ride wasn't like that at all, it was in fact so apparently hellacious that when we finally did pull up to Pichelamu many many hours later, the boys weren't talking to the girls and the girls were barely speaking to each other. But what of it. I have fond memories of many a squished night time van ride with the kids at AQ. Of course, I don't speak to any of them anymore. But what of it.
So there we are, David and I, speaking pure nonsense, reading road signs aloud (what could be more hilarious!) telling jokes involving elaborate dialogs that never reach their conclusion, and trying to freestyle rap. We find a temporary fix for the busted radiator and are able to continue to pull on, underneath a scattering of stars that looks strangely different from under the equator than above it, less pure, more dusty. Every hour or so, the truck starts to smoke and we pull over, unscrew the radiator cap using my striped bath towel with utmost trepidation until it blows, a guiser of frothing water. We pour more water into the radiator and then search for the radiator cap with a weak headlamp, down on our hands and knees on the roadside. Trucks roar past us so close I could reach out and tap them as they go past.
Leaving Pucon has so far been no easy task. First the volcano upchucked all over the futa valley and now the truck, which, in the grand and geological scale is really comparable, but it sure does have an effect on us, heck yes it does.
At 2:30 I hop out at a pay toll and take the wheel. All are asleep. I ignore the radio and the strange bouquet of unreleased American 90's music and Mexican Merechee. Instead, for 5 hours straight, I sing every song I've ever known, all the sea shanties, all the folk, straight down to the Jesus sledding camp songs that I learned (unbeknowist to my parents) Boymers' kitchen table. I think my three compatriates would have preffered the unreleased American 90s and the Mexican Merechee but what of it.
And every hour or so....the little radiator ritual.
I gave the wheel back to David at 7:30 but couldn't fall asleep....we stopped, kids and all, for breakfast and a few minutes into it I found myself sitting inexplicably before a Collasal hamburger. What was I supposed to do with this? Then I did the Robot with Palmer and Julia in the parking lot for a little bit, and then back in the truck and I tried to sleep.
Only David had just purchased this CD at the roadside breakfast place that could have been used by tortureres inducing sleep deprivation. UNDER PRESSURE!! ICE ICE BABY!! DUN DUN DUN DUDUDUD DUN! SWEET DREAMS ARE MADE OF THESE!!!" and this was blasted and followed by rounds of riddles and finally 1t 12:30 in the afternoon we turn into the dusty, carnival-y, beach town of Pichelamu.
So no sleep yet and the kids are storming around. I am very confused now about everything. We are staying in fantastic two story cabins, but the staff cabin isn't ready yet. So the kids gear up and hit the beach with their boats and I fall into a pile on one of their beds.
It's nice, and it would be nice to sleep. So nice. But then. Just as I'm starting to sink down into a delicious dark rest, one student comes back early. Sits on her bed adjacent to the one I am curled up in. Opens up a box of cereal. And starts to eat it. Dry. Handfuls.
It must go on forever. This poor girl, she doesn't know that the one trigger for my inner maniac is the sound of chewing. I don't remember much of what happened next, only that I avoided an ugly situation by bolting out of bed and scrambling fore the staircase. She tries to say something sweet to me and I just keep running, down the stairs, into the bathroom, under the shower. No where to go. No where to sleep. Must not wring any necks. So I shake off the water (can't use my towel, if you will remember it is soaked in water and radiator fluid. I walk into town. Everywhere is signs for completos, papas fritas and empanadas. I harbor my first dark thought about Chile: do they have anything else to eat??? and then feel immediately bad. I'm just tired, right? NO. my thoughts swing bag. no, the truth is I'm sick of this country's pride in their overloaded hot dogs!! yes, and while we're at it, NESCAFE should NEVER pose as COFFEE.
These are terrible thoughts. I must calm down, I must find sleep. I sit down at a restaurant and slug down three juices to take the edge off. Two papaya and one peach and tuna melon beauty. I feel a little better. I wonder if I'm supposed to be anywhere. Perhaps I will pay off and head back to the cabins, see if my bed isn't ready for me yet. Ciao.