Wednesday, 4 May 2011

We of the Saddle and the Gutter

The city might be heading home, the long weekend crawling to a conclusion. The opiate dispenser, the television, scowling down on an empty room from it's perch high up on the wall, is chuntering away to itself. The pictures are of grid-locked freeways and autovias, the scrolling script claims 1700 cars an hour are not moving along Ruta 2. However our near-eternal weekend still has a few days to run, so we scout out a series of roads that are not part of the 'all roads leading to paralysis, immobility and Rome' senario. Sticking to the provincial routes that start to pass through, to link together a train of serial towns. Tancachal, Pamayasta, General Fotheringham, Hernando, Dalmacio Valez Sarsfield, Pasco, La Laguna, Idiazabal, Justiniano Posse. A history of Indios and immigration.

For we are back down on the flat lands. Where the upper deck of a long haul coach offers a degree of elevation , perspective and superiority, we of the saddle and the gutter must content ourselves with a vast panoply of sky and some immediate fields of cereals. And if the corn is near to harvest, then that immediate world becomes even more claustrophobic, more closed in. Our views refined to a dome of blue, a hem of yellow and a verge of green. On other occasions the road climbs up on a berm, just a few metres of rise, enough to clear the high water table, enough to let us see the size and extent of the estancia holdings, the small ponds and lagunas that dot and water the area. These now explain the long skiens of cormorants that arrowed, low, crossing before us at sunrise this morning. A bird that in Scottish terms, is a solitary hunter, roosting and wing drying in small sociable groups, yet here it's odd to see them behaving like migratory geese.

It's a landscape that has the potential for boredom; however the towns come at regular intervals, each has its common connection, it's tie to it's neigbour, it's origional progenitor: the railway line. You can follow the direction of it's development one hundred years ago, as each place advertises it's centennial celebrations. The shame is that the line now sits rusting, lost in weeds and disuse.

Each town is stapled by the candy pole tower of dishes and antennae, steepled by a lattice of elevators, staked out with nests of silos and clutches of corrugated bins. The mecanicals display their alegencies to their chosen brand of tractor, the reds, blues and greens alined up beside an array of contraptions and contrivances, many of which are new to me, yet are familiar, or are at least fathomable. A digger for peanut harvest, a high lift trailer for wagon loading, a device for filling 'silo bolsas',long white worms of grain filled plastic bags, that grace the edges of fields, close to our road. Adding to these emporiums of steel and grease, are the citadels of the banks, still the best renovated edifaces in town, and the glass and crome assemblages of the fertiliser, seed and agrochem merchants. Add in the other aspects of a down stream agricultural support industry, the pick-up salesman, the veterinary's clinic, the gomerias of tyre fitters and repairs, and you arrive at a solid, unpretentious cereal town.