Gullibilicus’ Fourth only works if it’s a new acquaintance that’s being met for the first time, and the airport management haven’t anticipated the issue. Ezeiza provides us with both. First off, we’ve been here before, and second the authorities have provided an exclusion zone where you’re screened from the taxi touts, the baggage hustlers and the mellée of waiting extended families, the meet and greeters. A place to find onward ground transport from approved providers, where the tariff is fixed, displayed and you pay before you climb aboard. Spendicus’ First applies, however Parsimonius scoticus will just have to grin and bear it as there’s not a great deal of alternative in the evening and after two days of sleepless travel.
At the block, the same faces are at the concierge’s desk, the same tea bags are in the same jar, the bikes are hanging just as we left them, even the boiler starts first time. The German panaderia is still around the corner, the Bazaar Plastico is still at the bottom of the street. Fresh chipas for breakfast, new boxes for the dry goods.
It’s these familiarities, these same old acquaintances that displace any semblance of culture shock. We know the rules, we’ve got our breathing space, and a place to regroup. The camp stove is overhauled, the tent zippers replaced. The Lambeg drum is dismantled to reveal it’s smuggled contents. Tyres fitted, wheels mounted, gears replaced, then cursed the manufacturer who has altered the spec., bike maintenance completed, now for a road test. Climb the garage ramp: the steepest ascent this side of the Andes, turn left onto the ripio-like cobbles and a spin north to Tigre and the Delta. No jumping gears, no grinding brakes, no squealing hubs. All is as it should be. The ride is just right. This is my bike. It’s been a year and a half, yet it feels like meeting an old friend. We simply pick up where we left off. A short break in a longer journey.