The Roads of South America


You sinuous scourges, you that are fat with promise. You dusty paths etched by boot and by hoof into the immovable granite giants of this land. You blue-black strips of macadam stamped with the fists of modern machines into this primordial rock. You, that led with indifference Incan armies and Spanish conquistadors to triumph and to calamity alike. You, that cradled young Che and guided him to epiphany and infamy. Guide me, too, to the bones of your lost civilizations and their lost cities. Show me their secrets. Reveal me your hidden corners where mountain peaks conduct the swirling firmament in silent symphonies of light. Where snow falls on the wooly backs of wild camelids that stare at strange forms motoring passed. Strike fear in me with your dizzying drop-offs. I will ride on. Whelm me in your rocky streams and numb me with your bitter alpine air.  I am yours.  Beat me, you malevolent masters, with impossible distances and ferocious winds. I pick myself up and trundle on. I am your acolyte, your willing slave ready to suffer long hours and lost days in your interminable soup of switchbacks. I will endure your treadmill of torture, your endless rows of ruts and puddles and embedded rocks that pummel my tires like the fury of a thousand fists and wrest control from my weak and weary arms. I am painted in your mud and dust, I am bathed in your glacial streams, I am baptized in your faith. Lead on, you sirens of tomorrow. I will not yield. It is forever morning, and the bright day lies before me. Lead on.

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