What was the purpose?
Guerrilla warfare; played out in the mind.
Combat fatigue ravaged the body. The land was a dry, dusty, dirty brown, infecting the lungs and suffocating all thoughts. His mates called him hermanos, for they were all in this together. They had signed their lives away. It was when they were still young and stupid.
Now was the reckoning.
My sins are your sins and my death will be your death.
The target was a disused railway line. Tonight they sat and ate with a local isolated community, who fed them well and allowed them to gather their strength. A mountain sat patiently in the background, offering no comfort nor solace. It could be the last of many things one could be expected to see...
I was in a caravan of jeeps, suffering from altitude sickness, with splitting headaches at night and the occasional fingers-down-the-throat vomit. During the day I tried to sit close to the American woman, called Veronica, who sat beside me in the back of the jeep.
Scenery passed us by for we were in love. She with some previous French lover and me with the Butch Cassidy fantasies playing out in my head.
We found accommodation in a room with the four other travellers who shared the jeep. Wrapped up in bed, alone as one can be in a room with five others, Veronica complained of being cold.
Was it a hint? Oh shit, please don’t confuse me. Do you want me to come over to your bed and shag you with four others listening, in the name of keeping you warm?
I did nothing but dwell on the problem for the next two hours, by which time everyone, including Veronica, were asleep. Problem solved. I now had a problem with Belen, a Greek traveller in the jeep who thought of me as a homosexual. Already having a steady female partner, his pride in mankind had been dinted and he looked at me with distain.
Things went silent.
So silent; like a fiery red sunset in haze, burning the eyes till the part of the brain in the back of one’s skull can no longer see. We stopped at a red coloured lake, whose depth reached but a few feet, like the shallow feelings of inadequacy. My hormones were not talking to me. They had given up and accepted me for what it was.
It would be finished soon, they said to me. The Salar de Uyuni was nearby and then it will be onwards towards the railway and destruction.
Reaching the Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt pan, we took photos to commemorate our last days together. Things would no longer appear as they seem. Some of us had been disgraced, some of us felt ostracised and some of us were about to question our manhood.
Then after four days of travel we arrived at our final destination, the railway.
It already lay in ruin.