We’ve passed right through town and had not spotted any indicators. Time to start narrowing down the target, time to take directions. All agree that there is a place, that it’s yellow and that it’s on the right. The debating point is just how many blocks away, and between which panaderia and farmacia? It doesn’t take long in a South American country to realise that every town, irrespective of wealth, will have at least two of one, and three of the other. By a process of elimination we find a structure lost in the middle of a building site, that’s the white side of yellow, and looks more like a converted shop. The Navigator’s Español must be progressing, as it transpires that all the rooms are singles, but we can use the ’cocina’, the events kitchen, that a couple of beds will be moved in, that we can shower in one of the minuscule singles, and that the issue is no problem. Sounds confused, but she seems to have understood the instructions correctly. I suspect this is a new venture, and that the three señoras are fresh to the hospitality game and are keen to maximise any opportunity.
Contrast and compare our first night with the second. The ground might not be any drier, the fences are just as tight but there are more trees to hide behind. We’ve pitched on an old road before, pulling up the tar to get the pegs in, but never on an old railway - literally between the rails. With a gauge of four foot eight and half, the tent poles sit outside, whilst we are wedged tight inside.
I’m not sure if the Navigator had intended the ’double entendre’ when she said that she needed to ’anoint her tender behind’, or had the thought been triggered by the old kids’ joke: why couldn’t the steam engine sit down? I, on the other hand, speculate on the tonnage of Herefords that have been moved along these lines, on their way to the meat plants in Fray Bentos or Bovril, to be pied, corned, or canned for Europe.
The third night is a scenario that we’ve encountered several times before, yet it still fascinates me. How often a serendipitous event happens at or around the eighty km mark. Our guardian angel was in a strop; maybe we hadn’t offered enough thanks for her benevolence. Two days of a headwind should have been rewarded with a tail wind when our road changed direction. Of course the wind moved with the road. Why break a habit? We might as well be down in Patagonia. It is one way to get travel fit. The odometer is clicking on towards the end of the day and it’s time to start sussing out a possible tent spot. When up in front I can see a sign for a bridge; it’s likely to be just another cane choked ditch with a muddy stream running through; the previous ones have all fitted this description. The nearside banking fits this script, however the far side is a vision of Eden, or at least our idea of nirvana. Clipped grass, concrete tables and chairs and a sign to the ‘duchas’. Maybe we’ll get a shower tonight? It looks like our watching benefactor has enjoyed the gentle testing tease of headwinds and rewarded us with tonight’s site. Never tempt fate. We remember to offer thanks.
Three nights accommodation, all different. It’s the joy of unplanned travel. You don’t know what’s coming, even moments before it comes around the corner at catches you totally unaware.