So here I stand, on a hotel's balcony after a room service dinner of Chicken Parmesan, mix veggies, a terrible baked potato and a glass of very average Cabernet from Baja California, dragging on a cigarette and gazing mindlessly at a dusty highway landscape; buses packed with factory workers heading home or to another night shift, semi-trucks with or without trailers, green and white Nissan taxis with purple string-lights in the rear window and banged up bakkies of all sorts heading to Apodaca or Saltillo or Reynosa or Monterrey or, those that take the off ramp to the airport, to hopefully more exotic destinations. The heat as well as the light of the day is slowly dissipating, a near full moon is rising and a mild breeze is not really bringing any coolness, but at least it is stirring the polluted, exhaust-fumed air that is rising from the highway below.
The rest of the view is rather bleak to say the least; lighted billboards are selling LG refrigerators, Tresemme with the inevitable beautiful girl with perfect hair, a film festival later this month in the city and tropical beach getaways in Cancun. To the right of me, toward the airport, an array of cell phone and microwave communications towers stand tall among a sea of scraggy trees malformed by winds blowing in from the semi-desert beyond, and weeds as high as sunflowers at the end of summer. The green neon signs of an Ibis and a Holiday Inn Express hotel blink beyond a desolated field and further along the highway the sign of a 7 Eleven, gosh they are everywhere, and the lights of a wayward suburb in the distance.
As another plane with flashing red and white wing lights is crossing my vision, descending and lined up for a landing, two verflenterde men walk along the airport off ramp to somewhere only they know, certainly not to catch a plane. Maybe an overpass to sleep under or a makeshift shelter they call home for the night. They look up; I watch them; the irony of the different circumstances immediately make me recall that old Afrikaans poem, the name and author long forgotten, maybe A.G. Visser, I doubt it, maybe a poet from the Dertigers, of a man traveling in a train’s dining car looking out at a kampvuurtjie in the distance, while the person at the fire is looking at the passing train and its lighted compartments and wishing to be taken somewhere else. Or something like that. Brain connections, strange things. Not that I wish to swop places with the two verflenterde men at all. And maybe they wouldn’t want to either.
It seems everybody is in motion, going somewhere with purpose. I am the only stationary one. Musing.
Time to get back inside and pack. Time to nearly start thinking about getting home. Tomorrow, in the morning a quick trip back to the office for a last meeting or two, then back along this same stretch of dreary highway, passing factory upon factory, beer distribution depots, commercial equipment resellers and any imaginable industrial retailer you can think of on the way to the airport for an early afternoon flight and a late night arrival home. But it sure as hell beats traveling on Good Friday when I can rather wake up with birds singing in the trees, a cup of homebrewed mojo on the stoep and home-baked bread with thick slices of Gouda cheese on it. I may even spread some Marmite on for good measure. Nothing like lots of good vitamin B in the morning.
A long weekend is laying ahead and I am sooo looking forward to it. Peace and tranquility. Hard work on the farm during the day and when evening come and the sun is setting beyond the pond and the Ash and Eastern Redbud trees on the horizon maybe a skaaptjoppie on the grill and good red wine, quality time with the wife and a bit of superrugby.
Everyone gets a break…sometime! It's what you make of it.