Central Belt Shuffler is far from home, waiting at the top of a steep dirt track with Dr D for a ride on the camioneta.
The sun is hot, and we gather in the shade, breathing heavily from the steep route up the track. We look towards the bright blue of the Pacific ocean, and gather our breath.
A taxi rounds the hill, and the front-seat passenger shouts out.
‘Colectivo?’ replies Dr D. (Some taxis are exclusively hired, whereas others will take multiple fares heading in the same direction.)
The taxi halts. The passenger, hanging out of the window, beckons in agreement, ‘Zipolite’.
We get in. There are two young male passengers, drinking beer. The taxi driver, older, is passive, driving quietly. The passenger in the front seat, who introduces himself as Oz, wants to chat. They’ve travelled through from a surf venue up the coast, one fetching the other to his home town. The back seat passenger is a famous surfer, we are told.
The famous surfer is quieter than his companion, but halfway through the 10-minute journey interjects that his friend is looking for a girlfriend. ‘It’s been too long that I’ve been alone,’ he confirms, in playful melodrama. ‘Yes, the time is right for me. I want to get married. A family.’
He directs his attention to me. ‘Yes,’ he repeats, ‘the time is right.’ I nod, and laugh. ‘You Claaaar, I like your look. Will you be my wife?’*
We reach the turn-off for our destination. They are keen to take us all the way to the beach, that there’s a shorter route, but Dr Dr knows this isn’t true. We jump out, and ask the driver how much. The front passenger shakes his head. This wasn’t a collective, but a free ride.
‘If you want a beer later?’ asks the front-seat passenger.
‘Quizas,’ I say, ‘perhaps.’
* this is an updated version of this post, with the wording of the proposal provided by Dr D (26 February 2016).