Freeway camping, as a matter of fact, is exactly as miserable as it sounds. Speaking of sounds, there's no lack of them when only a stone's throw from Chile's main arterial. If breathing diesel fumes and dodging careening blow-outs by day isn´t torturous enough, the drone of four-lane traffic continues throughout the night. Impenetrable fencing on either side of the highway forbids one to seek silence in acoustically dampened clearings, so as a result, screaming rubber on striated concrete tuned with loosely tied straps fluttering like reeds on unpracticed instruments lull one into an anxious half-sleep filled with chase-scene dreams until the faint glow of morning blows one's cover. Forget optimism, even my grandmother couldn´t spin this one favorably.
For a week, I practiced this routine with growing frustration. Excruciating decibel levels left a residual ringing in my ears, so whenever there was a fleeting break in traffic, silence went unvisited. Instead, the ensemble of invisible tuning forks on the upper registers vibrated hard and loud against my skull. Inside my skull. Headwinds also contributed to the inescapable noise and aggravation, not helped by the swirling vortex created by passing eighteen-wheelers hauling truckloads of ass. Horns, too.
The worst part of superhighway cycling isn't the burning throat or aching vertebrae; rather, it's the insignificance of the bicycle, like bringing an eyedropper to a waterfight. No matter how fervently I pedaled, I was inevitably doused by roaring engines with their immense capacities for making noise and pollution. There was absolutely no sense of belonging. There was so many people, probably hundreds per second, but I felt a lonliness like never before. At the occasional service station where I would fill my water bottles and sit in a chair, conversations with motorists never went beyond a simple greeting. They could probably see the emptiness I felt and didn't want to jump in. I don't blame them. Prone to the drone of the cacophonic cauldron.