Racket Boy – An autobiography by Philip George

A day in the life of RB on 19th February 2024

Scene 1:
Reporting from the Shell Service Station in Arrecifes, located 170 kilometers west from Buenos Aires.

In a bit of a bother today – dealing with a badly swollen left ankle, making it tough to put any weight on it. Adding to the challenge, flu symptoms have ramped up. Hoping a good night’s sleep will work its magic.

Luckily, found some Brufren in my bag from Tuscany and took a sachet mixed with water. Maybe it’s a sign or even an order from the universe to take it easy after all the miles and challenges. Reflecting on the journey, it seems like my body is finally putting its foot down – quite literally. Ibuprofen and a peaceful night’s sleep should help.

As I wind down, I can’t help but appreciate my body’s cooperation throughout this adventure. A well-deserved rest awaits in Buenos Aires. Phil, take care and pamper your best travel partner – your own body. Positive thoughts and a bit of Talking Heads for a speedy recovery.

Update: It’s past midnight, had a solid three hours of sleep, feeling better.
Found myself in a heartwarming scene at the petrol station parking area – four friendly dogs forming a circle around the Kangoo. Their acknowledgment during a quick toilet break brought a sense of comfort.
Heading into the second phase of rest, optimistic for better health in the morning. Will keep you posted on the journey.

Scene 2:

In an unexpected turn of events, the stray dogs at the petrol station showcase their uncanny ability to provide comfort at just the right moment.
With a Talking Heads moment accompanied by George, I find comfort.
George, in the memory of Wainwright on the Striding Edge rocks of Helewelyn during misty snowy days, always found a way through severe snow and treacherous conditions.

Amidst the Rio Chubut area, I share George’s tale with the tree planted in his memory. No words are exchanged – none needed.

A subtle nod to the cool James Dean sets the tone as I ease back into sleep. Stay tuned for more updates on the road.

Scene 3:
I am awakened by a baby crying, and its local indigenous Indian mother is attempting to comfort it. A stern voice questions, “What have I to complain about?” The Munich Rule guides the journey: engage and interact; don’t lecture or ignore one another. I move on to pastures new. ACA Arrecifes on Ruta 8 is an excellent place to refresh. Arrecifes is a land of car racers, with Di Palma being one of the best-known. Juan Fangio is the star. Ask Lewis Hamilton; he will vouch. The baby stops crying, and I find peace.

Well of Souls, Malargue, Mendoza Province. 🇦🇷 El sonido que produce el viento en el lugar, es lo que dió su nombre. Da impresión escucharlo cdo uno se acerca The sound it produces of the wind makes you want to listen. One of the paths on Ruta 40 recently driven by RB as he remembers. The pain, flu symptoms, and increased body temperature return with a vengeance. RB takes the magic powder to stop tossing and turning and gets in another couple of hours of pain-free sleep. Looking at the mirror in the public toilets, his face resembles as though he has had a few rounds with Mike Tyson. He gets back into the Kangoo with some effort to catch in more sleep. Later in the day, he needs to find a shop in an unknown town to renew his prepaid Argentinian SIM card, currently preying on the mind rather than the swollen ankle!! Thoughts of a traveler.

Scene 5

Contemplating the predictability of weather and the challenges of civil conversation in a world fueled by combustible opinions, RB ponders the English fascination with discussing the weather.

A sudden realization hits RB that his country could be the West, especially when considering the acceptance of eating with hands. In Western countries, this practice is limited, but in parts of Africa, the Middle East, and South and Southeast Asia, it remains a tradition. RB is pleased by the fusion between East and West, observing a shift in dining norms.

The conversation takes a turn to political and environmental concerns. RB reflects on the lack of trust in the Tories with the climate crisis and their attempts to withhold vital information on net zero. Legal battles ensue, with RB actively engaging in the fight for transparency and effective strategies.

Amidst these discussions, RB finds a moment to connect with a wine producer in Patagonia, exploring collaboration in Asia and South America for fine wines. The prospect of promoting the RB brand and book in Argentina arises, showcasing the dynamic nature of RB’s ventures. Now, with a liberated spirit, RB hits the road once again. Never a quiet moment on this journey.

Scene 6:
On Ruta 8, departing from Arrecifes and heading towards Pilar with the possibility of anchoring there. I’m delighted to be back behind the wheel, experiencing a liberating feeling over the past three months. I pass by a vast sunflower field and other crops, noticing agricultural buildings scattered at their bases. My thoughts shift to my house in San Romano in Garfagnana, contemplating the need to declutter and let go of excess belongings, particularly sentimental items.

One immediate concern upon my return is dealing with the accumulation of stuff.
As I ponder this, three large extended trucks transporting cattle to the slaughterhouse pass by, their fate already sealed. It becomes a melancholic moment for RB, prompting the idea of following them for kilometers as they peer at me through the slats of the lorry. Passing a small aerodrome opposite a large estancia and smaller houses adds to the journey’s landscape.

Approaching tolls near Pilar, I refrain from paying the 300 pesos due to the absence of a toll collector. A lay-by further on features five double-decker lorries with cattle parked, creating a somber scene during the break of the young drivers. Continuing for another ten kilometers, I reach a brand-new YPF at Diego Gaynor serving as the last and fitting stop before concluding the road journey tomorrow.
The mention of Diego Gaynor evokes my idiosyncratic connection, undoubtedly familiar to you, summoning thoughts of Gloria Gaynor and her iconic 1970s anthem, “I Will Survive.” I find the association remarkably fitting and affirming.

At the YPF, I am attended by three young, energetic, and attentive petrol attendants with a humorous touch. They skillfully interpret the markings, scribbles, circles, and crosses I’ve added to the map. As I settle in for the evening, a mild sense of sadness accompanies the satisfaction of reaching the journey’s end. Wishing you a good night from the road.

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