Hum-drum fears, tears, sensations visceral like I’d never imagined. There are more than two ways of looking at all this; but first, I must re-trace my steps in order to find where I left my stomach. Just old change again; just old change again—jumped the gun. Ya gotta run, run, run, run, run, take a drag or two. Heard it all before, boss. Heard it all before. Duh, lah-lah-lah. Hrmph (hermf). Next thing I know there are two Pakistani guys who seem to be running some sort of shady business from a backpackers’ hostel; see, I mean, I guess it’s pretty normal for two older men to get up every day and put on suits in that kind of place; you know, storing all these plastic bags with random new-looking products in them in all the lockers, I don’t mind not having one, don’t get me wrong, but how is it that you two are in the business of selling soccer balls, working between Iquique and Santiago, Chile? I have no idea, truth be told. Not one. But being brothers, I’m sure it’s all bona fide family business. Thanks also for the chorus of snores and flatulence each night; and also for blasting Paki-rock throughout the communal area while people are trying to chill out; and also for waking up at ungodly hours without considering at all that the gigantic room light probably isn’t necessary to get changed. Loudest morning whispers I’ve ever heard, too. Golly. Onwards and upwards though, right, I guess. The days are young; blood spills all the time. Remember the French Revolution? Nope, but heads did roll. Perhaps a fairy-tale came out of all this after all: a German princess arrives, gentle murmuring sounds as she sleeps awaiting her prince. Alas, there appear to be few princes here. Maybe they hide in the subway? The blood brothers seem evil and conduct business in order to kidnap this Bavarian bachelorette, while elsewhere forces leaning more to the good side shoot knowing glances at one another, wondering if it’s really all happening and whether they should intervene. There are three levels here: one is one, two is two, and the third is the highest. It’s very loud in this forest, where she sleeps. A Chilean woman keeps a swift eye out for pretty much everything; it’s a more trained eye, because it’s been in this forest for a while. It speaks their language, while most of us just make funny noises at what we think are animals, hoping that maybe they will understand. Two nights and thus two night-shifts are probably enough—I am convinced I’m not the prince and want to get the hell out of there. Maybe that’s where my stomach was left. Christ…I hope it catches up. More seats. Traveling, especially away from weird places, is all about seats. Plane seats, bus seats, wagon seats. The latter is more from a fairy tale perspective of travel. Horses pull wagons and I guess that sort of makes you think there might be magic around. No? Es verdad, chicos. Making my way, way away, on foot, I look confused as always and a real Chilean queen appears, somehow trained in the tongue, asking me with a tenderness unseen in my home country, whether I need help. Well, of course I do, so I accept her kind offer. Which wagon do I take? I know already, but I’m unsure and what better when you’re unsure than to be re-assured by someone with a kind heart. Kind hearts might just be what I’m after, after all. The dazed gringo masturbates a map, glancing around like a challenged man, umming and ahh-ring with his entire being: Run, run, run, run, run, Gypsy death and you, tell ya whatcha do. And this creature so kind then offers to take me, like the stupefied child I am, to the location of my wanting. So the world isn’t so unkind after all; there are some out there, beasts of burden, shaped somehow beyond the run of things, blessed enough to hold a hand out to a mouse in a crowd. Train away, or carriage, or cart, depending on the era and dimension of reality. Fictional non-fiction, comin’ atchya! The saga rolls on until the bus terminal, which seems terminally ill in some strange way, sedates the gringo, who collapses and watches the mountains, seen now for the first time (the smog has lifted), breathes slowly and eats some papas fritas: I don’t usually eat unhealthily, but I do already feel as though my body might be wasting away; last night my ribs looked 3D and when I felt them I wasn’t sure if it was a normal feeling. So I bought a media luna too, fatty and filled with custard, munching away as the locals threw little eyes at me—what is this guy doing here? And then the seat. Night fall. The ocean: as soon as I see it, despite it being dark and miserable, I feel my breathing again. That’s right, I can breathe. Deeply. And onwards and upwards and onwards and upwards. Constant doubt about where and when to get off, despite knowing it’s all probably quite simple. Proxima, proxima, proxima…and then that horrid feeling as you remember, or find out, or discover, that you don’t have a bed and it’s dark and everyone else knows what the fuck they’re doing. Golly again. Run, run, run, run, run, take a drag or two. Alas, the people here are kinder; a wagon-driver informs me of a home I can have for the night. Es seguro andar? Si. And off he goes, still a little shaken, still a little sore at the world, to a warm shower, a fuck-load of tea (the peace it brings…) and action films in Spanish. Time to realign. Time to find the time, to feel those signs, re-design and find a loving eatery, sin carne, to feast my troubles away and stare at the mountains, knowing deep in my heart that out there troubles loose their footing easily, stumble down stiff peaks, and die. Gringo out.