We’re in señora country. What does this mean? This means that men here refer to their ladies as, “Mi señora,” or, as people in the US might say, “The missus.” It’s wonderful. I’m overjoyed to be in Argentina. I’m overjoyed at the day I just had. Two hours ago I was sitting at the border between Chile and Argentina, gazing out at cliffs topped with Araucaria trees, trees that look like they haven’t changed one strand of DNA since when dinosaurs roamed the earth. They probably haven’t. I was standing by the side of the road freezing my testicles off when one of the border guards motioned for me to come over. Hey, hey, he said. I walked over a little bit worried I was in trouble. Last year I came into Argentina with a car, and when I left, well, I didn’t have the car. The love of my life — aka Wendy — aka the car — is still in Argentina. I thought maybe they’d figured it out and there were going to question me. But no. The guard was just worried about me being in the cold.
Oh, you’re drinking mate, I said, hoping he’d offer me some.
You like mate?
How to explain to this man that if I could transfuse Rosamonte into my veins I would. How to explain to this man, whose name was Jorge and didn’t work for customs but rather for an organization that’s sort of like the national guard, that he was my earthly savior, bringing me in out of the cold, offering me mate, and then offering me a small Dixie cup filled with coffee and rum. Then he offered me some spaghetti with meat sauce someone had left at the border that they couldn’t take through because it was food. More mate. More coffee with rum. I thought he might give me one of the keys to the border patrol vehicles so we could go out in the parking lot and do donuts.
Now I’m in a cabin in a town called Las Lajas, in southwest Argentina. I have the entire cabin to myself. It has a combination living room/dining room/kitchen/sitting room/room for entertaining guests, a bathroom, and a bedroom. The radiator is right behind me as I type. I’m drinking tea. In a few minutes, I’ll walk into the center of town to take out cash and also look around. Maybe buy a mate gourd. The guy who drove me here from the border, Juan, would not leave me until I had my lodging situation figured out. He drove me to one set of cabins, then to the grocery store where his señora worked, then to a lottery agency where a man worked who might know where the cabins were I’d tried to make a reservation for on Airbnb earlier. When we finally found these cabins, he greeted the woman who owned the cabins is if they’d shared a crib together, and she also greeted me with a kiss on the cheek. Just now there was a small knock on the door and it was her standing there with a roll of paper towels, instant coffee, and crackers to eat with the instant coffee. Two seconds earlier I had been looking at the roll of towels thinking I’d have to ask her for more since they were almost gone.
“You can read minds,” I said.
The best part of these cabins? They don’t have WIFI. They do, sort of, if you stand next to the main house, but since conditions are downright polar outside you can basically say there’s no WIFI. Which is wonderful. How am I going to teach my English classes since that’s my main source of income? Who knows. Who cares. I’ll figure it out. The only thing I care about right now is drinking my tea and watching Argentinian television. Reveling in being so far from home, and yet having met people today that treated me as if I were their brother. As if I were a loved one. And the fact that you can find that halfway across the world with people you’ve never met before never ceases to amaze me and make me happy to be alive. So thank you, to the wonderful men I met on my hitchhiking adventure today, and to the señoras, too.