For those in the know: that large react of coastline south of BA. RP11 ~ Punta Laura. 4th.March '15.
Over time we've perfected our escape routes from the Argentine capital, a city that seems to glory in its auto-centric credentials. Yes, it does seem manic from that high perch on an international bus, as we're swung through sweeping intersections only to be cooked behind the glass as we clog to a standstill at the next blockage. And yet, as we cycle away from the centre in the perpetual rush-hour, were riding in a stream of pedalling commuters. All of whom tell of the dangerousness that is Av. Libertadores, only to swing away to weave a line through it's outer lanes. Still, I never feel threatened on this escape road. A route that connects the flat to a ferryport, to a bus terminal, to a train terminus. Escape routes that are well sourced, now well versed. Escape routes that have covered many points of the compass, missing has been the southern river shore and the Atlantic Coast.
Our reticence to visit in this direction has in part been due to the city's street plan. Somehow a metropolis of millions has to be navigated along its longest axis.
Why anybody would want to "walk" to its outer reaches is a ponderable question, given the parade of omnibuses that overtake, only to pull-in and stop right in front of me, there's even a rattling Metro line up on stilts to complement the mass transit provision. But 'that' search engine has its 'walking' feature, and as cyclists can generally go where pedestrians wander, so do we. Down canyons of posh streets, weaving around suits and Starbucks, slaloming the touts offering tango and cambio, ignoring the inconvenient signages. Threading our way further from the centre, through once separate villages and that have swollen into towns and are now assimilated into the 'greater' city.
60km. clocked: still we're in built structure, 70km: the slow incremental transformation from house to factory. 80km: and we've discovered a disintegrating tarred road that, the rusting signage suggests, it could be going where we want to go. Only it feels like we're heading into a garbage dump, the road to the cowp. Fly-tipped vegetables and burnt out cars, spewing polybags and flooded potholes. Only nature is already fighting back; the trees and the natural vegetation creeping in from all sides, turbo-charged weeds heaving the macadam aside. The heavy humidity encouraging the mosquitoes, the sound of our tyres on tar falling into the swamped silence. Not a human being in sight.
A moat of grey water and indeterminate depth blocks our path, an impenetrable wall of forest defends the road's perimeter. Too late to retreat, too tired to recce, too. We plunge in. Through the vegetative tunnel and suddenly out onto the Rio del Plata's vast watery plain. An endless expanse of brown, short chop sea.
Another escape from The City. Only it's one that I suspect won't be repeated. Those trains that have rattled past, that have kept us company, still run a passanger service. It's our intended method for reversing, for breaking back into The City.