Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Day 2: PF Potvin's Further Adventures

Sucker that fer-de-lance, deadly venomous fangster. I set out whistling up the main paved road and swung left, gradually ascending toward BarĂº. Although it was sunny, the top was shrouded in a halo of cloud. For more than an hour I walked without glimpsing a soul. The howls of random dogs behind fences kept me company. They grunted and rattled their chains as I passed. Finally I neared the gate to Parque Nacional Volcan Baru, and a small girl peeped out from behind a 10x10 concrete bunker. I greeted her in Spanish, but she only stared back. Later in town I discovered she was likely part of the Ngobe Bugle indigenous tribe, picking on the nearby coffee plantations. For all I know, she spoke no Spanish and may have even considered me a mule or monster, especially the way I sweated beneath my pack.

Not long after, I paused and chugged a quart of water. I crunched some peanuts to keep the liquid down. I started hiking again and the road changed from paved to dirt to rock to mud to stone. There was a humming in the distance that seemed to grow louder even as I climbed away. I kept hiking until it forced me to spin about.

Filtered to Code

Where the volcano road steeps to walking with hands, I waited for the soldiers. Their truck acked a grumble through the jungle gnarl as three standing in the bed lurched forward from the sudden brake. Then the biggest man turned. "What are you doing here?" Laughing at my accent, he thumbed me in while flashing his single front, a tooth like me, a sucker scaled and parching in the sun. For the rest of the day we negotiated that road — jumping in bed corners to lend better grip, splashing down to muscle through mud holes, even throwing shoulders below the bumper to shimmytender the axils over ledges. At times we'd hop out and whistle as the biggest man mounted the front grill and bounded the truck over boulders. When the wind began to whip the
cling from our shirts, we finally spied the summit. The biggest man lit up and motioned me head with his smoke. "Here's the station where all the voices get filtered to code. But you know gringo, it's the same message either way: a man a plan a canal panama."

Filtered to Code appeared in Ocho #19

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