Why the 1? Because I think this is a subject to which this blog shall return.
In Pat Garrod’s book,’ Bearback; The World Overland’, he and his wife Ness ride around the world on a BMW R100GS. It’s probably the best travel book I’ve ever read. One of the places he mentions is ‘La Posta Del Viajero en Moto’ in Azul. Azul is a small town built on a typical Argentine grid pattern some 300km south west of Buenos Aires. La Posta http://www.laposta-azul.com/la_posta_index1.htm is run by Jorge and his wife Monica and daughter Peny and they welcome all and any bikers or adventure travellers to their home.
We camped in their garden for 2 days with flamingos, lapwings, ducks and a few frogs – Jorge loves his garden and birds. Here they have a workshop, kitchen and bathroom for guests to use. Jorge has been doing this for years and the walls of the workshop and kitchen/dining area are plastered in messages, pictures and stickers left by adventure bikers who have passed through. It’s like a time capsule of adventure travellers. For the use of this haven for bikers Jorge asks nothing other than you sign & comment in his guest book; there are 5 of them full up so far and some well-known adventure travellers have passed through. It’s a good idea to leave a contribution to help keep it going for the next traveller. Jorge loves to welcome bikers to his home and he flies the flag of your nation outside the front of his house while you’re staying. While we were there he raised the Union Jack alongside the Austrian flag (for Wolter and Christian who were passing through on their way north). When I asked his daughter Peny if local residents might object to a British flag flying in their town (given recent shennanigans in Argentina by a well-known UK motoring tv program) she said he doesn’t care what anyone thinks, he welcomes all travellers whatever their nationality and especially if they come by motorbike. Jorge is a lovely man and if you pass this way, do come and see him, have a good long chat and help keep this iconic place going. If you are there on a Friday as we were you’ll join in the Asado (BBQ) with Jorge and all his mates from the town.
After two days it was time, reluctantly, to move on. Who will we meet next, everywhere we’ve been we have met kind people so will that continue? At Pohuenco at a beach campsite we met Maria and Pia, two sisters camping for the weekend. They were chatty, friendly and we’ve stayed in touch on fb. Like everyone else we’ve met, they were not only interested in what we were doing but in where we came from – why oh why did we not think to bring a map of the UK with us! We have plenty of maps of South America but …….
So we moved on (Somewhere Else Tomorrow to quote the title of Daniel Rintz’s excellent film about travel) and we found ourselves staying in what can only be described as a gigantic beach hut in Puerta Piramides on the Valdes Peninsula. We were welcomed by Carlos, his wife Marianne and their little boy Alex. Again they were smashing people and happy to chat all day. Carlos also runs the local supermarket (enterprising chap!) and we stood at his counter with our groceries and some rather large steaks chatting for about 10 minutes about travelling, about how he and Marianne came to be there and what they dream of doing (more travel!); throughout that time other customers were waiting. In the UK if we’d held up that queue for 30 seconds let alone 10 minutes there would have been a riot but here people take things much more slowly and greeting each other, chatting and passing the time of day are all part of the fabric of their lives. At first if feels strange but then it feels very relaxing – you just adjust to their pace and realise that actually, nothing is that urgent so stay and talk a while.
Also in the town, and also stopping by our ‘beach hut’ to chat was Geri (pronounced Gary). A really nice guy from Germany travelling around South America in a big red ‘Feuerwehr’ truck (fire engine to you and I). He’s been travelling for about 30 years around the world and goes back to Germany for the summer then leaves so he doesn’t have to see a European winter – he tells us the last winter he saw was about 16 years ago! Reluctantly again we moved on. This time to Gaiman, a community with Welsh roots (& Welsh tea shops) a bit further south. As we rolled into the campsite we’d chosen we found it was empty apart from ……… a big red Feuerwehr truck and Geri sat in a camping chair chilling out. That evening we shared a meal and although I wouldn’t have thought so before, I can now heartily recommend cauliflower curry as a great dish. Geri likes his curries very hot but being a considerate host, he left most of the curry flakes out leaving us to add as much or little as we wanted. Another small act of kindness sparing the linings of our mouths what would surely otherwise have been seriously hot.
Added to this mix are the anonymous people who help and expect nothing in return. The chap on his bike who insisted on showing us the way out of town back to the main ruta riding with us all the way and even offering to give us lunch. The smartly dressed gentleman we met in a petrol station who when asked the way to the town museum didn’t know – so he drove ahead of us to the municipal office, went in with Jenny and translated where we wanted to go, then drove ahead of us again till we got there and then tooted his horn and drove off with a wave. Finally a special mention for the family (husband, wife and small children) who pulled over and siphoned 3 litres of petrol out of their car for us when we rather stupidly ran out of fuel at the side of ruta 3 then wouldn’t accept any payment. (The fuel stations can be very far apart – that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!)
Over this same period of time we have seen lots of sights and wildlife but they can wait for another post. It’s the people we’re meeting that are creating our headlines at the moment.