Sunday, 27 September 2009

32. From Ire-guay

Seven thousand kilometres in eight and a half hours. Not a bad day´s average as the plane touched down in Argentina. Minutes later I was reunited with Rocinante who had also survived the journey relatively unscathed and I boarded a bus to downtown Buenos Aires. Any doubts about the wisdom of embarking on another trans-continental bicycle journey faded away at the sight of another city, another country and a whole new variety of cultures.

Jose, our first host in Uruguay

For the first few weeks in South America I´m sharing the road with the witty Paul Tuthill. Despite knowing many of the same people (we are Irish after all), the first and last time we had met was in Benin, when Paul was heading out of central Africa and I was heading in. In the meantime Paul has had a few months to build up a collection of entertaining stories from back home and I´ve worked on the African tales, and now we talk our way along rural Uruguayan roads, past the unending green fields and ubiquitous cows.

Main street in Rosario

We escaped from the Argentinian capital by catching a ferry across to Colonia del Sacremento, an old Portuguese smuggling base and we were soon trundling along rutted but peaceful backroads. Uruguay was badly hit in 2001 with the financial collapse of its larger neighbour, Argentina, and the agricultural industry has also been affected in recent years by bans due to the spread of foot and mouth disease. Wild camping has been no problem and on a couple of occasions we have stayed on farms and been invited to drink mate and eat some food, whilst building sentences one word at a time with my Spanish phrasebook.

Which way Paul?

Paysandu, Uruguay
Trip distance: 22,587 km

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