Friday, 31 December 2010

Allow me to Introduce "Zonda"

It has the feminine suffix, so I suppose that we should consider her in the female form. The trouble is, a whole host of pejoratives will come to mind; bitch witch being the mildest. Sounds like the stage name for a circus act, or the product of the cold world war days and the old East German sports pharma physical industry. “Sonya  the Shot Putter”  turned “professional”, mutated into “Zonda the  World’s Strongest Woman”

Dust in the air, pre-dawn

Shelter - one low thorn bush
and tent poles shrunken in
the cool of the morning!

She’s fast becoming an integral part of our travelling lives. She dictates our whole day, when we get up, how far we go, where we stop, how much water we carry. Zonda  is no act, she’s very real, even if she’s not a physical entity. For Zonda is the dry, desiccating, dehydrating southerly wind that blows up around midday on the eastern side of the Andes. For such a presence, she doesn’t make regular  appearances in travellers tales; maybe the winds of Patagonia are so all consuming that this wind gets lost in the narratives.  In the most recent edition of an English language visitor’s guide, Zonda is described as an autumn and winter, schizophrenia-inducing wind, capable of  raising the temperature from  frosty to  a  pleasant Scottish  summer’s day: from  0 to 20 degrees. A confusion of definitions that could be easily resolved by inviting the editors of said guide to try walking or cycling over the Arena de Campo on a December’s afternoon in 42 degrees of heat. Forget any split in your character, you will be reduced to a simpleton,  a raging ball of spilt spleens, vexatious vitriol and screaming tantrums.  Given these differing  tempestuous  descriptions, it’s maybe not odd that when we were doing, what passes for pre-planning preparation, a north-westerly  was suggested as the prevailing wind direction. Fine, possibly even true, but southerly Zonda seems able to trump that on nine out of our last ten days. She did deputise her cousin, Murphina, to take her place when she decided to take a day off, on the one day that Ruta 40  turned to the prevailing north-west. 
An afternoon, even an hour n the company of Zonda, will leave you zapped, zonked  and zombied.  Your  palate will be creased corrugations, your  tongue stuck to the roof of your mouth, your teeth all furred up, all accentuated by a fast dwindling supply of patience, lip balm and drinking water.

The pessimist accepts the inevitability of the situation and  bails out to a tent or a drain under the road. The optimist  looks for a positive and consoles himself with  the only positive piece of information that Zonda is good for: washed clothes dry fast, then he too heads for the same drain. The pragmatist turns the bicycle around and  heads the other way.
Which ever way you look at it, she’s still a bitch.