Friday, 18 March 2011

“Argentina in a Nutshell” - The Ultimate Single Image.

If, after four months, much of it in Argentina, I can take just one single image away with me, one that sums up our experiences here, then I caught it today. It’s cerebral, rather than digital in depiction, although a re-enactment could be created for the blogosphere. However it wouldn’t include the surrounding, and preceding impressions and images that have been built together to create my mood, temper and humour at that moment.

We’d solved the techie issues, survived a dose of retail therapy, sourced last minute, walk-in, city centre accommodation, all with the novelty of a bath. We’d lain long past sun rise in a youth hostel, just so we could avail ourselves of the price inclusive breakfast. The coffee alone was worth it. Exited alive from yet another city, and we’re now cycling through heavy dapple. The road lined by hefty, shading plain trees, riding past butternut squash, honeydew melons and table ready grapes.. Stopped to eat chocolate cake in a bus cum sun shelter, chatted with two inquisitive boys and watched the last of Aconcagua float away in a heat haze. Life is good.

Late Saturday morning and we ease our way into Valle Tumulaya, an agricultural service town, that is in a bustling, unaggressive, pre-siesta mood. We’re circling the plaza; inevitably it’s another San Martin. Traffic is heavy, we’re moving slowly, spying out anything of interest. Which is a synonym for a coffee or an ice-cream. We ’re passing the end of a row of double parked vehicles, just as one pulls away. We were probably in his blind spot, but actually he hadn’t looked either, but in this instance it didn’t matter. A situation in, say, Haddington High Street, where I would have happily let rip with a choice of expletives and gestures, suffering afterwards the effects of an adrenalin rush. Not this time. I’m watching this from an vantage point to the rear, all of this slowly unfolding. The driver realises his error and apologises; The Navigator laughs and offers a ’de nada’ - it was nothing. A conversation ensues. ’Where have you come from?’, and ’where do you come from?’ It took us a while to distinguish the subtlety of the distinction. The driver’s hand comes out the window with a huge bunch of grapes. All whilst both are gently rolling along the street. It’s just so typical, so Argentine. Had it been Paraguay, he would have scored a telephone number just as instantly. The ease with which a conversation can start, the uninhibited offer of assistance, the proffered present, the pleasure of a minimally comprehended conversation. It’s all so positive. Life is good.

Forget coffee or ice-creams, we’ve got fresh grape pips to spit, so we retreat to the depths of the plaza, and are talked at by an old boy who used to race road cycles from BA to Chile and back. So typical. So Argentine. Life is Good.