Pointing the finger / Pointing the ‘dedo’
In Spanish the thumb is also called a finger, hence to ‘thumb a ride’ is to ‘dedo’.
It may sound silly but hitchhiking is there amongst my childhood dreams. As a young whipper-snapper in sleepy town Suffolk I envisioned true travel as sharing the back of a pick-up with local farm workers in a far away land.
In Argentina ‘dedo’ was something I was ready to try.
Nevertheless, all the reasonable anxieties of una mochillera sola extrangera / single female backpacker kept nagging away,
- What if my ride turns out to also be a charismatic psychopath?
- Do I speak Spanish well enough to hold a long conversation?
- What if I get robbed or lost in the middle of nowhere?
It wasn’t until I reached the hippie town of El Bolson, south of Bariloche and met Andre, that I was ready to get started.
We met in budget $60 (£3) camping across the river. I was the only extrangera within a camping community of South American bohemian travellers escaping the cities for summertime work, selling their ‘artesania’ or touring in bands.
Two days of relentless rain storm left all us seeking dry refuge in the rough wooden cabin that served as a kitchen. The innate desire to share —COMPARTIR!!— meant that food was busily prepared and bubbling away on the stove for everyone who was to join the congregation.
It was such a toasty night of macrame and drawing around the table, bottles of beer and wine passed like mate, from one to another along with songs and stories. We ate steaming hot comida under one dangling bright light bulb suspended above a long wooden table.
As well as the usual conversation comparing countries and languages we compared confusion at jazz music theory and listened to old cheerful tunes from the 1920s. Andre twanged a version of Durazno Sangrando, an Argentine classic by amazing Luis Spinetta. Common to the others but new to me was the strangely beautiful tale of a bleeding peach.
Leaving El Bolson
The next day, after lots of chat about the ‘what ifs and where fors’ Andre helped me find a good spot for a ride out of the town: by the gasolina station after the supermarket.
I was ready! and it was thanks to him and some encouragement, for giving me that —final—–gentle—–push——
Within 30 minutes Katia, a ceramicist from El Hoyo offered me a ride and I was on the road!