Some days open and finish with the same narrative. We're on the Pampa, not a hill is in sight, the sole punctuations on the extravagant horizon the next pueblo's grain silo and some scattered islands of cedar trees. After the near continuous rolling montage of the Cordilleras Los Andes, where days could never have finished in any similar vein to which they started, down on these flats, these scapes have the potential for reiteration. A succession of twice told tales, such that I start to wonder if we're not cycling for the sake of it. Constructing a leg that in time, might become part of a completed continental end-to-end. Pall, weary and tedium drift on the far edge of my consciousness . Even that duplicitous sin 'boring', floats its dull suggestions.
Up on the hill, out in the desert, the sceneries are so at a variance from my habituated norm that experiences fall over themselves, crying out for observance. Low down on the Pampa the scapes are agricultural, recognisable, understandable. So, if I'm not careful, they could be rendered down to commonplace.
Ennui. Listlessness; dissatisfaction: derived out of excitmentlessness. The solution is simple. Patience; the stories are still there, only they're now hidden that bit deeper.
It's been a deliberate decision to return to South-East Argentina for the final leg of this trip. In part because the northern Peruvian coast will be hot humid and their inland mountains sitting in a clag of wet season rains. Yet those very places sit high on the 'wish list'. Yet more unfinished business. A deliberate decision to ride on the flat. No sudden surprises; climbs hidden around corners at the close of a day, boulders rolling down hillsides in the middle of the night, nor stacked tangles of switchback bends clambering up to the heavens. Now a chance for a differing, contrasting perspective, to set against those high, dry places. A chance for contrast and context. A different challenge, a change to some verdant rehydration.
There are two distinct worlds to the south of the capital. An agricultural heartland with a touristic slivered skin on its edge. Both vast and flat, their towns reflecting their economy's history. The former dominated by soya and windmills the latter by sand and cleavage. Only the twain never mix. Only occasionally do they meet.
The Rio Quequen Grande separates these two worlds, and their attendant twin towns. On the north bank is Quequen, which we approached from it's hinterland. Cycling through tracts of bottle green soya, hectarages of brown, ripe sunflowers and harvested stumbles of wheat. Passing clutches of corrugated silo bins, being passed by lumbering wagons hauling to the port. Rolling past the glossy offices of seed merchants, the glazed emporia of tractor salesmen and the inevitable oily yards of the grease wallah. On the south bank is Necochea. A long strand of sand with a retaining wall of crenellated highrise condominiums, and all the paraphernalia of seaside resort. Pizzerias and heladerias. Resto-bars and deckchairs hires. Asian cottons and estate agents. Spades and buckets.
We cycle the agricultural, cross the bridge and pedal the length of the beach down at the tide's edge, and find ourselves standing at the interface of these two worlds. Perched on a breakwater, a tangle of cement 'jacks' and a view, a smell and a noise. The backdrop is a high wall of concrete bins, a tangle of cereal elevators, in front of which is the bulk tanker: "Bullion Trader #2", that is part-obscured by a pall of grain dust rising from its hold. The foreground, a dredger deepening the river's channel. On my side of the river's mouth, and to my rear, are the clustered cliffs of resort accommodations, the congregations of holidaymaker's cars starting to gather at the sea's edge. It's to my immediate front that the interest exists. Two rod fishermen are casting on the water, wading through a pod of cantankerous bull sea lions.
Somedays are all pampa-agricultural, somedays are all touristically-sand. A monoculture for two different places. Then there's the surpriseday when they nearly mix.