The Land That Time Forgot

by Bill Bonner

We are in the southern hemisphere. It is early spring. Still, at this latitude we didn’t expect such cold and weren’t prepared for it. But the ranch is on the high plains at about 9,000 feet.

“We have to go,” said our guide. “There’s another part of this ranch…another farmhouse…but it’s another 20 minutes’ drive.We don’t have time to see it; we have to get over the pass before it snows.”

“I have to go, too,” said the woman. We turned our heads and looked around. This was the land that time forgot; the thought of her needing to be someplace at some particular time seemed out of place. Besides, where could she possibly have to go? There was nothing for miles and miles. Nor did we see any vehicle she might go in.

“We have a little church over the hill,” she explained. “We don’t have a priest, but we get together for services anyway. It’s Sunday night, after all.”

And so, we got back in the car and headed back to Salta. The drive was advertised as five hours, but the gods were full of mischief. We had barely gone 45 minutes when we noticed that one of the rear tires had gone flat. But it was still light. We made quick work on putting on the spare. Then, about 20 minutes further down the road, the spare went flat too. This might have been a disaster:Night had closed in; there was barely one tiny town on the whole 200-mile stretch. But here the gods gave us a break.The second tire went flat in the middle of that very metropolis!

Calling it a town, a burg, or even a hamlet would be flattery.The place was nothing more than a collection of gritty shops and dusty houses sitting out in the middle of nowhere. Still, the driver merely rolled down his window and asked a man passing on his bicycle where he could find the “gomeria.”As luck would have it, the man on the bicycle was the man who ran the gomeria.He was just on his way back to the shop after church. He seemed absolutely delighted to have this opportunity to play the Good Samaritan so soon after his dose of gospel.

“Are you kidding?” said one of our group members. “This guy was desperate for a tire to fix. There are almost no cars on this road.He was probably praying for us to have a flat tire…”

“Or putting nails in the road,” suggested another.

While the tire fixing was going on, we rambled down the dark streets to an open door.Light came out onto the road. There was an old car parked in front. Stepping inside we found a general store with various canned goods on the shelves, a refrigerator with beer and soft drinks, and a few clothes down at the far end. Two dark-skinned women tended the counter, both of them swollen up with fat and watching the television on the opposite wall.

The victuals were not fancy, but they were welcome. We ate an apple and drank beer out of a can while watching TV along with the two clerks. After a few minutes, we were all at home with one another. It was as if we were regulars, gathered around the only TV in town…studying it with the rapt attention of a 10-year-old murdering a worm.

On the TV, a monster had burst out of a dead alien and was threatening to eat the president of the United States of America. The film, Independence Day, had subtitles in Spanish. We had seen the movie when it came out. It was so appallingly bad that even the salesgirls gave cynical laughs in the wrong places.

When we finally got underway again, we realized how lucky we were. There were no more towns, nor more houses, no passing cars, no nothing…within many miles.

We were going over a mountain pass and had almost gotten to the top when it began to snow.The snow was light and didn’t stick to the ground. Still, all we could see was a few yards of road ahead, and the white stone barriers designed to prevent us from slipping off the cliff.

“If we were doing this in the daytime,” said the driver, “you could see how dangerous this road is. You’d probably want to get out of the car…”

“Yeah…and freeze our butts off,” said a voice in the backseat.

Editor’s Note: Bill Bonner is the founder and editor of The Daily Reckoning. He is also the author, with Addison Wiggin, of The Wall Street Journal best seller Financial Reckoning Day: Surviving the Soft Depression of the 21st Century (John Wiley & Sons).

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