Yes, we know that siesta gets earlier in the day the further north that we go. All too often we’ve made a habit of arriving in town moments after one o’clock, the point where bustle turns to torpid, lively to lethargy. When the still dead humid heat descends and the national flag outside the town’s police station hangs in the doldrums.
So arriving in Santa Rita at 11.36 am we had built up our hopes. The graphics on the atlas suggested a habitation of some import; it should have a panaderia and supermercado, and it does. It also has the full gamut of peluqueria, carniceria, heladeria, funeria and even a whiskeria. Only they are all closed! Both the petrol stations are open but only to sell fuel, nothing from the kiosko or the minimercado.
Have we jumped time zones? Got the clocks wrong? I’m sure that daylight saving was two weeks ago. Maybe it's Santa Rita’s day, but it's evangelical country and anyway the chapels are all closed. Strange and hungry. It’s going to be pasta and sauce with a side of salt tonight. Which is all fine and well, only been on the menu for the last three nights. I’d spent the last 40 kms dreaming on chorizos empanadas and ice creams. (Note the plurals; that ‘s how life is lived these days.)
Siesta does start earlier. The working day is in full swing by 7.30 and dies at midday only reviving when some of the heat has dissipated out of the walls and pavements , around 5.00, for another two and a half hours of activity. I know all this because we checked all the ‘eria’ businesses’ doors.
Later on , on that same day and we are luxuriating and ruminating; somewhat hungrily, on the joy of such a quiet road. The average had been a couple of motos, a lorry and several ox carts per hour. Fast elevating Ruta 2 into our top 10 all time greats. We’re sitting sheltering from the sun under a mimosa tree at a lookout over the Rio, when out of nowhere, a lady in flowing cotton prints and straw hat comes striding past. A lady on a mission, very determined with her ‘Census 2010’ bag slung over her shoulder.
It’s next day in El Soberbio, where we are over compensating on forage, to make amends for the famine of the previous day, when, in conversation, we learn that yesterday was a day of Biblical judgment. Everybody had to stay at home to be counted. Explains everything.