Monday, April 20, 2009

Hell is #17 on Repeat

We headed out of Copacabana in a packed bus, got off at a dusty nondescript crossroad, and waited to flag down anything that would take us to Sorata. We were successful. Finally, a jeep with only one extra passenger pulled up and offered a ride in the right direction for a reasonable price. We hopped in.

My mother, when she rides with me, will hold on to the sides of the car when I take curves a little too fast. And my father will stomp on a ghost brake pedal when I tailgate. I found myself uncannily turning into my parents on April 15, 2009: holding on to the sides of the car, closing my eyes, wanting to cry, and throwing up a little bit in my mouth.

Maniacal. The appropriate adjective was maniacal. The driver was a short guy, who could barely see over the tasseled and Virgin-Mary decorated dashboard. He also could not decide whether or not to wear his red baseball cap. On, off, on, off, on, off. And every time he changed the cap he would add another piece of bubble gum to the growing wad in his right cheek.

But, there were things he was decisive about. Music. In particular, tracks 2, 6, and 17. At first I thought it was an oversight, that he was too intensely focused on his driving to worry about the music that was blaring in the cab. But it was not a mistake. With one hand, he carefully insured that the stereo remained on repeat track with a complicated-looking, plastic-bag-covered remote control, and with the other hand he blew through stop signs and honked at lingering school children, nuns and the army. (Yes, women in habits and men in camouflage.)

I didn't mind the deejaying so much for the first 30 minutes of the ride, as he changed the song number a few times, and I got to know a new song, which I can only postulate is titled "Ay, mí cholita linda flore..." based on the triumphant refrain.

After topping out at a pass in the Andes, we began speeding down a "geologically unstable," curving road down into the fog. He chose number 17 to be the theme song for the rest of the hellish hour-long descent. I caught Andrew burying his head in his hands in disgust every time the synthesized drums vamped a new beginning to the song. And I buried my head in my hands with fear every time we would skid around a hairpin curve in the wrong lane. Apparently, honking insures right-of-way, but the rest of the traffic just didn't know it yet. Opposing cars ended up gesturing angrily and sliding to a stop when they encountered our jeep. Our driver just turned up the music.

The lyrics to the chorus of #17 were Hoy te toca llorar, Hoy te toca sufrir, or, "Today it is your turn to cry, today it is your turn to suffer¨. Truer words have never been sung.


  1. interesting that the song matched what your feeling at the time

  2. Erin! I kept reaching for the "Oh, Jesus bar" the whole time I was reading this!!
    Guess Who?