When a glacier calves it is a sound not unlike thunder, less sharp, deeper. Everyone would stop and hold their breath, listening until it was done. But to see the Perito Moreno glacier you have to pay an exorbitant entrance fee. They run everyone through chutes, counting us as we go, onto a fenced platform where a man tries to explain what we were all feeling: length and width, metric tons and cubic meters. The contrast between the natural and the artificial was jarring.
The highways and biways of Argentina are peppered with the shrines of their ersatz saints. My personal favorite was Difunta Correa . She died tragically in the western deserts from thirst and exposure. Her husband had been forcibly recruited during the civil wars, so Correa, fleeing the advances of the town commissioner and desperate to be reunited with her husband, walked out into the desert. Mule drivers found her, without life, but her infant son had somehow survived suckling at her breast. Deemed a miracle, her story spread and her devoted grew. Shrines were built, pilgrimages were made, prayers were answered and eventually she became (despite the remonstrances of the Roman Church) a folk saint among the popular class.
Her roadside shrines would fill with water bottles meant to quench her eternal thirst, and as I walked I would always greet them from a distance with thanksgiving. As I moved west, the land dried out and the towns became distant and carrying sufficient water became a challenge. I worked quickly as I rummaged for a bottle that hadn't been long in the sun, fearful that someone would appear and accuse me of sacrilege: an illegitimate child sucking also at that dead teat. Despite my fears it did seem wrong that with all that water I should have died of thirst in the desert, too.
In southern Argentina the blue sky summer winds can easily reach hurricane force and the trailer trucks end up on their sides. Most of Claudio's work was specialized and industrial but being an enthusiast had condescended to weld a piece of a motorcycle the relentless wind had thrown down. Claudio was an enormous man, spilling out over his overalls, a little unstable on his own legs, his swollen hands pinching the delicate work.