It’s been a holiday weekend in Argentina, a European celebration of Columbus’ exploits in 1492, hence the four days of rain, which have culminated in a full blown wind and rain, thunder and lightning performance. All the omens look set for a damp start to the trip. The porridge bowls are near flooded even before the water for the coffee has boiled, we’re huddled in our foul weather skins like drookit rats around the moated concrete table. Yet in the short distance back into town, the sky rents and the temperature starts to climb, we’re shedding layers. For a countryside that is so flat, it’s difficult to see the changes in weather approaching; it’s one of the few things that change and move fast around here.
Last night we collected the first of the ‘you know that you’re in ….’ confirmations, this morning we carry on with the list…..the moto commute, the primary bound children in their lab coat and bow tie uniform, the horse drawn ‘fletes’ trap waiting to deliver a load of bagged cement, the Tannoy speakered cart blasting out blandishments for today’s specials at the local farmacia, the cow grazing the central reservation, the all pervading smell of soap powder from the supermercado. It’s like a banner that says ‘welcome back‘.
Leave town and you’re instantly in the ‘campo’, out in agriculture, out in the reason why we crossed the Rio del Plata and are using , in part, Uruguay as a way-station to get north. Quiet roads. Wide roads. Cyclist roads. For many Porteños, residents in the capital over the water, Uruguay is the 49th barrio, appreciated for it’s quiet, laid back, easy ambience, where not much changes. It’s two years since we passed this way, yet our pro-forma of the familiar and the trivial will require updating. We’re seeing changes. Changes are happening.