Friday, 13 March 2009

13 March 2009

other side and all I heard was the faint hoofbeat fading away in the woods. The dogs subsided and sat to lick themselves. What was this horse? What myth and ghost, and what spirit? I told Neal about it when he waked up. He thought I’d been dreaming. Then he recalled faintly dreaming of a white horse and I told him it had been no dream. Frank Jeffries slowly woke up. The faintest movements and we were sweating profusely again. It was still pitchdark. “Let’s start the car and blow some air!” I cried. “I’m dying of heat.” “Right!” We roared out of town and continued along the mad highway. Dawn came rapidly in a gray haze revealing dense swamps sunk on both sides, with tall forlorn viney trees leaning and bowing over tangled bottoms. We bowled right along the railroad tracks for awhile. The strange radio station antenna of Ciudad Mante appeared ahead, as if we were in Nebraska. We found a filling station and loaded the tank just as the junglenight bugs hurled themselves in a black mass against the bulbs and fell fluttering at our feet in huge wriggly groups, some of them waterbugs with wings a good four inches in spread, others frightful dragonflies big enough to eat a bird, and thousands of immense mosquitoes and unnamable spidery insects of all sorts. I hopped up and down on the pavement for fear of them; I finally ended up in the car with my feet in my hands looking fearfully at the ground where they swarmed around our wheels. “Lessgo!” I yelled. Neal and Frank weren’t perturbed at all by the bugs; they calmly drank a couple of bottles of Mission Orange and kicked them away from the watercooler. Their shirts and pants like mine were soaked in the blood and black of thousands of dead bugs. We smelled our clothes deeply. “You know I’m beginning to like this smell” said Frank “I can’t smell myself anymore.” “It’s a strange good smell” said Neal “I’m not going to change my shirt till Mexico City, I want to take it all in and remember it.” So off we roared again, creating air for our hot caked faces, and went to Valles and on towards the great foothill town of Tamazunchale. This town is at an elevation of 682 feet and still in the jungle heat. Mudhuts leaned brownly on both sides of the road; great groups of children stood in front of the only gas station. We loaded

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