He travelled the paths of the papa by bicycle, with a ladder on his back. Bautista Riolfo was an electrician and a handyman, a Mister Fix-It who repaired tractors, watches, grinding mills, radios, rifles. The hump on his back came from stooping over sockets, gearboxes, and other rarities.
René Favorolo, the only doctor around, was also a handyman. With the few instruments in his satchel and the medicines at hand he filled the role of cardiologist, surgeon, midwife, psychiatrist, and all-round specialist in whatever needed fixing.
One fine day, René went to Bahía Blanca and brought home an instrument never before seen in those solitudes inhabited only by the wind and the dust.
The record players had its quirks. After a couple of months it stopped working.
Along came Bautista on his bicycle. He sat on the ground, scratched his chin, poked around, soldered a few wires, tightened a few screws and nuts. “Give it a try,” he said.
René chose a recording of Beethoven’s Ninth and placed the needle on his favourite part.
Music filled the house, spilling through the open window into the deserted night, and it lived on in the air after the record stopped spinning.
René said something or asked something, but Bautista didn’t answer.
Bautista had his face buried in his hands.
A long moment passed before the electrician was able top say, “Pardon me, Don René, but I never heard anything like that. I didn’t know there was such … electricity in this world.”
Eduardo Galeano, Voices of Time. Metropolitan Books, 2006 (2004)