Completely out of food and money, Ernesto and Alberto stop at the house of a friend’s brother-in-law and camp out there, eating his food. To get rid of these guests whom he barely knows and clearly doesn’t want, the brother-in-law offers to find them a ride to Lima. He tricks them into leaving town with a driver who abandons them, halfway through the night, at a rest stop in the middle of nowhere.
While Ernesto thought he was getting into trouble at the beginning of the book, now he’s seeing what real problems look like. It’s notable that he doesn’t get angry or upset, even in this dire situation, but tries to devise a way out of it. He’s grown up a lot since the trip started and is able to handle much more serious situations than he once could.
In order to eat, Ernesto and Alberto resort to desperate measures. In one town, they meet some drunks at a bar and pretend it’s the “anniversary” of the beginning of their journey so that their new friends buy them drinks and food. In another village, they throw themselves at the mercy of a local doctor who buys them a meal. Eventually, they manage to procure a ride to Lima, even though it’s with a semi-blind driver over an extremely dangerous mountain road.
The men repeat, out of necessity, the tricks they used to play for fun to con people into buying them food. This kind of behavior isn’t nearly as exciting to Ernesto as it once was—now it’s just a mechanism to get him to his next destination. He has more important things on his mind than playing tricks on people for fun.