10 January 2011

Near Saladillo

Outside Lobos on 205 the shoulder ended and though I was not windy there were many trucks and I held the white line of the road side carefully. The oncoming trucks slammed me with a wall of wind that nearly knocked me off the road down the gravel embankment. I would brace for each oncoming truck and the wind would hit me and I would fight to keep the bike on the road and my pedaling rhythm would be ruined. The passing trucks would bomb by me and tow me along in their wind stream.

But 205 was a narrow two lane road and when a truck was coming up on me from behind and one was oncoming there was little room for me on the road if they passed each other beside me. Some truckers would slow down behind to let the oncoming truck go by, but others did not slow down and would honk to let me know they were passing, or to tell me I needed to get off the road onto the shoulder. I was glad I did not have a rear view mirror because I did not want to see trucks barreling down on me from behind.


It was a long day in the saddle because of the trucks and 17km outside Saladillo I turned off on a dirt road towards a campsite that had been signposted. It was located 5 km back through farm fields and there was fine sand in places and I had to push the bike. 2 dogs chased out of a farmhouse after me and despite the sand I out road them. It has been my experience that the chase-rate of dogs in Argentina is very high.

At the campsite of the Lagoon del Indio Muerte I paid for a spot and set up my tent. There was a large group of children singing and playing games as a sort of youth retreat. I needed to wait an hour and half for hot water in the showers and I lay down in my tent and ate some cookies. I lay there trying not to fall asleep and the campsite owner came to my tent to let me know the hot water was working.

After I was cleaned up two boys from the group of young people came and invited me to join their group for dinner. It was a church group from Buenos Aires and I sat down with the older girls who were running the 5 day retreat and I had with them a mate. It was strong, sugarless tea and very hot and you took a long draught through a hot metal straw and then passed it along to the next person. It was a fine ritual and we talked and drank the mate together.

I had dinner with them and the rest of the kids on the long picnic tables under the thatched roof and after we had eaten the children swarmed me, asking me all kinds of questions. I was sitting at a table with the children 2 deep around me, staring and talking to me all at once. A couple of them could speak in English and tried to monopolize the conversation to the displeasure of the others. It was a fun moment and they were good kids, but I was very tired from my ride and had to excuse myself. I had not made Saladillo and would have to make up those kilometers the following day.


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