16/02/2019 Simon ‘Wardy’ Ward is nomadonanomad
Irony is a wonderful thing isn’t it? I sometimes have two or more posts being written at the same time and one I had on the go recently, but as yet not finished, was about how much better I’m getting with technology! I should have known it would be tempting fate, but I went ahead and did it anyway. What happens? The bike computer which I’m now using, more details in later post, suddenly develops a mind of it’s own and denies me proof of two consecutive days of 100kms plus. Not too bad really but I did use foul language again. Then things really went pear shaped and the company with whom I keep the website decide to ‘improve’ things and suddenly I can’t access my own bloody website! It got so bad that I had to jump through hoops to try to prove that I’m me! When you think that the internet is spying on us all 24/7, knows where we are and what we’re doing don’t you just think they could work out who I am? It took 4 days and at one point I honestly thought that the arch idiot, Zuckerberk (not a typo) had bought the bloody company and was doing his usual shit to me and other folks just trying to get on with their lives.
Back to what’s happening in the real world. After one day and a night in Guamini, I was keen to get away even though the wind was going to be against. Fortunately, it wasn’t too strong and I would just have to put up with it on the ride to Daireaux, 90kms away. The name Daireaux is just a bit on the French side for me and I did wonder if it would be open, but I’d have to wait to get there and find out. It was a tough ride. Yes, the wind wasn’t strong but it didn’t let up and 4 hours turned into 6 plus the extra time taken for more frequent breaks. When I arrived I was absolutely shattered.
Photos. The sign by Ruta Nacional 3. Looked good and made me think Daireaux would be ok. Part of the outdoor swimming complex. No kids so it was ok to take pictures. The train station. Looks to be overgrown and I didn’t see any trains but I ddi hear the sirens each day I was there???
An ice cream shop was the first place I homed in on and the owner was very helpful in pointing me in the right direction to the hotel I’d researched. It turned out to be very cheap and quality wise was just about ok for a short stay. A quick look at the forecast told me I might be there for a few nights as the wind, the next day, was going to pick up and my legs were badly in need of a rest after 4 days cycling, the last being really tough. My next task after settling in was to find a restaurant and then hopefully a craft beer bar. I rode around town for some time, constantly checking google maps, when it started to dawn on me that the town was in fact, closed. I thought about the Boomtown Rats and ‘I don’t like Mondays’. (It was a Monday)
I went to place after place and all were shuttered. I was getting utterly fed up when I saw another place that wasn’t listed on any site I use and hoped that maybe it might be open, or about to. Of course, it was closed but just two houses away were two guys sitting on the veranda having a beer so I stopped to ask them if the bar was going to open that night or if there were any that they knew of where I might get a beer. Immediately they invited me to sit with them, got another glass, and a beer was poured. Argentinian hospitality at it’s very best, and at just the right time. In no time at all we were best buddies and they were very interested in my journey and thought it was very funny that I refer to myself as ‘Abuelo Loco’.
Alejandro was on the phone making call after call and soon some friends were turning up bringing beer and food and a feast was prepared. He also quickly established that the bar, almost next door, would be open the next night and arrangements were made to meet there the next evening. OK by me guys! Alejandro’s mate, for whatever reason was called Patato. I have no idea why, and didn’t ask. We had a great time with questions being asked of me via a translation programme on Alejandro’s phone but me being able to answer in Spanish. He couldn’t get the idea of speaking more slowly to save using his phone! So, a bad night turned into a great time and we made the arrangements to meet up again.
The next morning the forecast was not good, as I had previously thought, and it looked like I would be stuck for up to 4 days. I took this as an opportunity to get some serious practise on my Spanish and hopefully take it to another level. After breakfast I had just got myself settled and Duolingo cranked up when a guy I didn’t know walked up to me and asked if he could ask me questions for the local radio station! Fame at last, or is it that, in small town Argentina, not a lot happens? I think the latter explanation is more to the point. He gabbled away in Spanish and then he would shove his phone under my nose for an answer. I wasn’t sure what was being asked of me so I guessed and hopefully got some bits right?? I’m sure that some of the ‘interview’ went like this. ‘Tell me Senor, what do you think of Argentina?’ ‘Wednesday’. When do you plan to leave Daireaux?’ ‘Behind the gas station’. But I did try my best……….
Photos. Sculpture near the train station, made from old car parts. A flying pig on the wall of the only half decent bar in town. The answer to the question, ‘is Daireaux open?’ I did manage to get Muffin hosed down and looking better.
Four nights I was stuck there waiting for the wind to change. It’s just not worth fighting it and getting smashed up for no real reason and I do have enough time to make it to Uruguay during my visa time as I found out it’s just over 600kms away and I have 5 weeks or so to do it. Four nights in Daireaux was about 2 too many, even having got to know Alejandro and Patato and some of their friends who were all very nice, it really is small town Argentina, and I was keen to find out what San Carlos de Bolivar was like, as I’d been told it was a city of a decent size and somewhat more sophisticated, which to me at least implied that there would be better craft beer bars, that might be open, or was that just wishful thinking?
The wind wasn’t helping much on the way to Bolivar but it wasn’t a hindrance either and it was less than 80kms so not too bad. First impressions were that it definitely had more happening than Daireaux, and having got settled in I checked the forecast and realised that I would be here for 3 nights as the next leg of my trip was over 100kms and doing that into a headwind was a no-no. Bolivar was certainly a lot bigger than Daireaux and I thought that staying there over the weekend could be fun. Lots of nice sounding restaurants online and craft beer bars aplenty. What I didn’t realise was that the bars and restaurants there don’t open until at least 8.00pm and some much later and I was starving. Ice cream can only do so much and I eat ‘snacky’ stuff from supermarkets during the day on my rides but in the evenings I need a proper feed.
Déjà vu was the place I eventually landed in. The internet told me they opened at 7.00pm so I allowed them 15 minutes to get sorted, but in the summer they don’t open until 8.00pm. I had to wait and I was starving hungry and fully deserving of a beer or two. At long last they decided it was ok to pull me a pint and I ordered food. It’s taken some time but I now know how to get good healthy stuff here in Argentina, and in decent portions at the same time. I order a salad which seems to be made for a family of four to go with their meat, so it’s a huge portion and I’m sure that no-one believes I’ll finish it. No problems there, to me it’s a proper cycle tourist size meal and I can always find room for dessert.
Photos. 3 random shots of Deja Vu. I did try a couple of other places but they weren’t anywhere near as good.
The salad in Déjà Vu was so good I had 3 different versions on the 3 nights I was in Bolivar, along with a few pints of an excellent porter they had on tap. (I should try to remember to take photos of the food I get through but when it arrives the only thing on my mind is eating, photos take too long!) They even played some great music, with very little of that hip hop crap that seems to be everywhere. Bolivar turned out to be a nice town with character and I enjoyed my time there. I also got around some of the town on the bike and it was a nice place with some ‘olde worlde’ character.
Photos. Las Acollaradas. The huge municipal park in Bolivar. It had water park, couldn’t get in, boating lake, pictured, athletics track, albeit a bit run down. In all a fantastic place and I was there on a weekend and it was deserted???? Jose de San Martin who has streets named after him in almost all towns and cities. They like their heroes here! Water tower. Begs the question about colour blind painters.
Nueve de Julio was next stop and I didn’t get to see much, as I arrived late in the afternoon and left early the next morning keen to move on while the wind was ok. I was again the first in the bar as they were setting up shop for the night. I’m sure I’ll be getting a reputation, but Argentinians do tend to eat and socialise late in the evening, whereas I need food early and it has to get washed down with a couple of well-deserved pints. I did get another great salad, eventually, and this time I remembered to take a photo, albeit after already getting stuck in. The bar did a good pint of stout as well so ‘refuelling’ went well.
Photos. I did remember, after a couple of mouthfuls, to take a pic of the salad. It was a biggy!
After Nueve de Julio the next stop is going to be Chivilcoy, but that’s for another time. As always thanks for reading this far and may your God go with you.
Simon ‘Wardy’ Ward.