Sunday, 21 October 2012


Urbanisations breed suburbs like a tapeworm spawns proglottids, a canker that self-replicates unhindered. Or, at least that’s my jaundiced view, borne from a sleep-deprived brain and a taxi transfer between the airport and our adopted flat. Barrelling along multi-lane highways gravid with evening traffic, lane-louping and undertaking, sweeping flyovers and plunging underpasses.  A roller coaster. The rictus grin of a bus’ grille leering in the rear window, the front window of a converging car that appears to disappear under the windowsill, as we both debate the ownership of a single lane. Yet this is BA, so both vehicles happily coexist as we spiral around a slipway. Only it leaves me pondering: we’ve got to get back out of here, hopefully on a bike.

BsAs, like many cities is a conglomeration of barrios or villages that seem indistinguishable under the homogenising street lamps; that are veined by streets and connected by an arterial tangle of roads; that can, in this place’s instance, engorge into the Avenida 9 de Julio: possibly the world’s widest street, at least until China collects that accolade as well.  In effect, only one route leads from the capital  to the country’s north-eastern provinces, a direction that we would like to head off in. The paucity of roads is due to the immense barrier of the Rio Paraña’s delta, a tangle of canals that’s a days ride in width, and that hollers: mosquito.  Previously we’ve re-entered the city this way, and even from the bus at sunrise, you could see how narrow, how congested, how fast, how unappealing a city escape this might be.  There’s little point in starting a trip on a downer.  Salvation is available.

There are a few options for escape. Tar, iron or water. The former involves dismantling your trusty steed, bagging and surrendering it into a bus’ luggage hold.  The next relies on the service being available, not always a guaranteed commodity.  Which leaves the river.  Now any city that has a ferry connection, in my estimation, sets itself at the head of the queue.  Auckland, Wellington, Seattle have all been accessed by water, so could New York, but we can’t quite justify Cunard’s tariff.  Last time we used a service that deposited  us in Coloñia, from where we cycled north, camping one night in Carmelo. From our tent site we watched a catamaran ‘lancha’ arrive.  It had the eminence of a rich man’s toy, but there were too many plebs standing at the rear rail.  It transpired that this was the Cacciola service from Tigre.  On that occasion we speculated on the possibility of cycle carriage, and maybe on another occasion we might try this escape route. That occasion has arrived, and yes, they do take bikes.

A ten mile cycle along quiet cobbled streets, from flat to port. Collect two tickets and a surrender of cycles and panniers to the boat’s crew.  A three hour speed boat race through the Delta’s canals and a roar up the Rio Uruguay, to arrive in a warm, dark and sleepy Uruguayan town.

From jaundiced prejudice to yellow sodium lights, another new escape from an other metropolis.

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