Deep in a golden-tinted basin as autumn wanes; the grains shuffle all about. The rush of each gust, navigating past your surroundings, seeking escape into the nothingness behind, announced by your ear.
Flight after flight—whether New York, Ho Chi Minh, Tokyo, or otherwise—you are greeted by the cacophonic call that lives so comfortably: the hordes of comings and goings, the merchants of profits, the snaked checkpoints and the entryways where everyone is either bursting with excitement, sobbing at life or yelling for no one while waiting for someone.
You are outside, having just moved through this airport of Montevideo, finding yourself listening to the wind as it wraps itself around the modern structure, through the lingering cigarette butts in the can and over the handful of suitcases waiting for adventure. Everything, whether it be inside or out, seems as close to silent as a sleeping dog, or a field of grains. Never before has an airport struck you as relaxing, soothing, and so calming. Some, of course, like the small county terminals in places you’ve never heard of, are this quiet, but it comes from a feeling of abandonment while here, in Montevideo, it feels—or to be more accurate—you have, exited the plane into warm tranquility so very peculiar for any place called an airport, much less the primary airport of a country.
You now sound crazy, for sure, because anyone who actually visits this airport will undoubtedly see a mere airport and wonder the hallucinogens partaken for such mesmerization to arise but alas, such it is—a fleeting observation at a particular moment which hardly can be challenged now but assuredly had or has the potential to be entirely different an hour previous.
A small trickle runs into a small ticket office outside the doors and to the right. You head this way to procure tickets for a bus that run through the airport, one of the buses that will take you to all the places you might want to go along the lovely Uruguayan coastline. The woman at the counter doesn’t speak much of any English which—while somewhat interesting for an international airport-related function certainly frequented by foreigners—is quite refreshing. Is there not some comfort, or perhaps at least a dash of adventure in arriving to a new place and actually feeling like you are there rather than sitting in a temporary—or worse, permanent—bubble with the air, language or food from where you came? If the point of travel were to live easy, one must be hard-pressed to explain how staying home failed in that debate.
Your bus ticket is already crumpled in your pocket, vying for space between a phone or a wallet or a passport or any of the other possessions looking for a free ride. See, it wasn’t really that hard to explain through pointing and jotting and a stumbling through a Spanish word here to get a bus ticket employee to figure out that you were in the bus ticket office to buy a bus ticket. And it didn’t hurt that some others there who had some command of your language and that of the present, were gregarious souls who helped bridge any gaps that might exist, such as the explanation that all the seats are reserved on the bus but, if you want a ticket, you could get one because one can always stand on the bus in Uruguay, despite it being a four hour journey to your first stop. Four hours to somewhere, for where you are going you have little knowledge other than the most important facet that it is said—and now is seemingly confirmed by the crumbled paper in your pocket—to exist.
And so, you are outside in the most peaceful environment an airport could allow, waiting for that bus where you will test your legs, the same ones that had just been laid to waste for nearly a day of sitting in a metal can while hurtling across the globe.
The open seat, cast in blasts of sunlight towards the back, beckons your attention, and you, being the stand-up individual that you are, feed its emptiness; a feeling of accomplishment stemming from the good luck to start the journey. Each time the bus shakes to a stop, the doors open and you watch intently at the oncoming passengers. You scan the seated faces, determining the other squatters amongst you. You watch the woman dig into her bag to acquire her territory, but the guilty requires no such evidence in addition to their already tarnished conscious. The hapless soul stands, while lightly apologizing, to the delight of the other squatters like you, as you then await the next oncoming passenger’s progress.
Green pastureland dotted with peculiar trees moves on the movie screens on both your left and right. The sun, jutting in and out of the clouds on the movie screen ahead, also dances at times between the left and right monitor, sending a warmth to attack the cool air flowing from the vents. The cows also make their appearance often, stars of the fine production afoot. It is amazing how quick good movies can be.
And then finally, you roll into Castillos, a nice little town in Uruguay that feels somewhat abandoned, with a parked car sitting alone, with a light breeze sliding past. Perhaps it is because it is November, and the crowds haven’t yet descended with their fervor. But, just like everywhere, things are very peaceful.
A three-legged dog greets you as you climb off the bus, your legs perhaps feeling like its fourth, quite useless at this point having stood for much of those past four hours. Or perhaps your legs are feeling just fine as you wander the empty square in what must be the middle of this quiet town, spying a food truck plying milanesa sandwiches.
This hobbled dog, who is missing an ear in addition to that leg, follows you back to some seating, where you drop your bag and eat in the silent park, a welcome bit of nourishment. The dog has been through this scenario before, and assuredly knew better than you when your bus would be arriving. Was there ever a chance you weren’t going to feed the three-legged dog missing an ear? He knows this just as much, and everything disappears expediently as his tail wags with gratitude. You take a moment before getting up to toss out your trash, heading for the next bus which has just rolled up and is sputtering about, an old rusty bucket with charm.
It isn’t long before your dog is watching you fade into the distance, on the final leg of today’s route. And it is somewhere around that point that you realize, if there is any place to lose an ear, it might be best in a place as tranquil as Uruguay.
And with that strange notion lingering, you put the pen back into your bag.
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