Across Continents

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Shades of the Eighties

In the corner a small television. Mexican news channel. Police manning a road block, their faces obscured by balaclavas, despite the obvious heat. I joked to the woman on the adjacent table that this must surely be a profession as accident prone as being an Iranian nuclear scientist. Quickly adding I meant those working on their peaceful weapons programme. The sort who seem – not infrequently – to fall victim to drive-by shootings or other unfortunate events. She smiled.

These supposedly random events, I suggested, were a fine alternative to well.. thermonuclear war. Got my vote I said. Grinning. And the Iranians were raising the stakes. Threatening to close off the Straits of Hormuz. Block a sizeable chunk of the West’s oil supply. Shades of the Eighties. The Tanker War. She looked bemused. Left wondering how good a grasp of English she had.

I’d stopped in a small Mexican cafe in Cedar Creek. Small intersection town thirty or so miles east of Austin. Few houses, gas station and a bright white wooden Methodist church. I’d left the city three hours earlier, waved off by fellow cyclist Francis. He’d suggested various routes towards Bastrop, my destination for the night. I’d declined, citing I preferred to stick with what was on my strip map. Retracing my steps from the hostel back to 7th Avenue.

A largely uneventful journey. Brief coffee stop under what quickly transpired to be the busy flight path of Austin’s international airport. And a driver who’s behaviour I found as baffling as it was bizarre. Ample room to pass me on the quiet two-lane highway, not least because I was riding in the adjacent cycle lane. But instead she chose to sit in my port quarter. Pressing on the horn. Presumably wanting me to move still further over. Simply couldn’t oblige. It’d be rewarding stupidity. Which I never did. Ran contrary to Darwin’s Theory of Natural Selection.



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