Thursday, 10 March 2011

Never Judge a Book by its Cover

Loncophue: reprovision and head out of town. Four kilometres and just under an hour later we’re back in the same place. I’ve been blown into the ditch once and visited the far side of the double yellow line. All it would take is for one of our swerves and an overtaking truck to coincide; enough said. We retreat, it’s the better part of valour. The tourist office is closed, it’s only super high season, so it’s difficult to tell if the campground facilities might be unlocked. We’re not alone in this dilemma, they, however, can move on, we cannot. So we fall back on our standard retreat: a Hospedaje. The first is full, the first time we’ve encountered this problem. Señora’s reticence as to the status of her four rooms makes me suspect that she didn’t fancy our bikes taking up oily residency in her place. The second is empty, maybe not a good sign. The outer aspect are not conducive, but like our previous experiences, any refugio in a storm is still a refuge. We’re led through a side gate and into a courtyard waist deep in lupins, roses, gladioli, snapdragon, kniphofia, delphiniums, poppy, sweet william, topped by a fruiting peach and a grape vine. Never judge a book by it’s cover. The room is immaculate, the shower hot and we have a veranda to laze upon., all for less than a cramped, overcrowded, Bariloche campground. Such is the market and the mantra: location, location, location.

To celebrate, or commiserate our evening’s fortune, the forager heads for the rotisseria, but it’s closed; the heladeria for further field work on ice cream varieties. Dulce Patagonia, Moka Crema and Tramontana. Then the super mercado for the second time today, she causes mild amusement when she asks for bread, ’how has she eaten a dozen rolls already’, some antipasto, and a selection of cold cuts. There’s also a bottle of vino tinto, a bottle from the bodega at the bottom of the world, a bottle of Ventus. A weird sense of perspective or a wicked sense of humour. The label says it all. An insult to injury or a case of thumbing your nose. If you can’t beat them, you may as well join them, even if that’s under the table.

Last night’s noise was all about the wind in the poplars, tonight’s is distinctly antipodean. After the clattering tin roof subsided, the parrots started to fly in. A few at first, then a few hundred, the score keeps accumulating, the clamour increasing. Still more keep flying in from the campo, suddenly I’m grateful that we’re not pitched under those trees. As each new flight arrives, the greetings and news exchanged, so the chatter increases, the parrots now outnumber the inhabitants, even out vocalising the dogs. It sounds like an amplified rookery, an Australian memory.

We might be sheltered , inured to the wind in our secluded private room, but the poplars on the crest of the hill, up on the plateau are bent over telling another story. Maybe that bottle of red called ‘The Wind’, will need time to work it’s magic, that or it’s evil, devilish ways. It’s near full on dark, still the parrots keep flying in.