As we started to cycle it began to rain and we had to battle a strong wind, with rain hitting our faces and our bulky waterproof coats protecting our bodies
. It was nothing close to fun, and after a short time we sheltered in a bus stop to have some left over pizza. Miraculously during the five minutes that we stopped the rain stopped, the clouds parted and we found ourselves in the blazing sunshine. The scenery seemed to be glowing from the quick downpour and we could see mountains in the distance, which had been hidden in the low cloud. The air was filled with birdsong, as they flew around happily enjoying the better weather, and our spirits rose. It doesn't take much to improve our moods and it is surprising the difference just a bit of sunshine can make on your perception of an area. The flat farmland seemed alive with character and life, we noticed the rows upon rows of sweetcorn, we saw big machinery in the fields and numerous cattle farms.
After an hour or so we saw a cafe by the side of the road and thought we should stop, as we had no idea if there would be anywhere else ahead. We had very low expectations as it was a small building, with two chairs outside and no real signs of life. As we walked in a large lady who had to turn to get out of the door approached us and asked if we wanted some food. She only had one thing to offer, but said that she would make it big for us. We hoped so as we were starving and she wanted $6 for the sandwich. She soon came out chuckling with herself and put the biggest sandwich you have ever seen in front of us
. She had cut a whole loaf of bread in half down the middle, and fried up a big piece of beef, which was covered in breadcrumbs and then added a three egg, herb omelette, a couple of tomatoes and huge dollops of butter, mustard and mayonnaise. She presented us with one of these, EACH! She told us that we looked like we were wasting away and that we needed to eat because we were cycling so far. She pointed at my muscles and said that they needed food and that she wanted to fatten us up. All of this was probably peppered with "my love" or a similarly term of endearment, as she had the kind of mum looking after you character. We couldn't believe the effort that she had gone to and how tasty she had made the sandwich. We have gotten so used to bland food, with no extra touches such as sauces. We each devoured the entire loaf of bread sandwich, and happily sat back with full bellies. As I returned the empty plates, she asked if we needed a bag to put the left overs in, and then laughed whole heartedly when I admitted, slightly embarrassed, that we had eaten it all. She gave my full belly a pat and asked where i had put it all but said that we looked like we needed it. I was blown away by her kindness and motherly nature, as it felt like I had just dropped in on a friend and asked them to whip me up a quick meal. It was just what we needed and I felt like it was a big hug from home, which made me want to stay with her and let her fatten me up. It just goes to prove the old saying "never trust a skinny chef" because that lady knew how to put together a good, huge meal
We hit the road again with food in our bellies and fire in our hearts, we sprinted along the road and covered ground quickly, with the sun on our backs. We were in great moods and I remained touched by the kindness of the sandwich lady for the rest of the day. As we passed more farmers in the fields, we noticed that the agriculture was completely different from what we have seen until now. The machinery was huge and they had 500m long irrigation systems that were dwarfed in the massive fields. As the day drew to a close we were chasing our shadows along the road, which was unusual because they usually ride along beside us, as we head south. For a change we are heading east to make our way to Montevideo, in Uruguay and had the sun setting behind us.
A car passed us and honked their horn numerous times, which is fairly common in all of the countries we have cycled through. We waved back and thought nothing of it, but a couple of seconds later we saw them slowing down and pulling over off the road. They were waving us down and we wondered what was happening. They looked friendly though and were pointing at a thermos flask as we approached. We stopped and discussed our trip, with the friendly Argentinian couple, who had once done a 2000km bike tour themselves
. They introduced us to Maté, which is a very popular Argentinian drink, in which ground Yerba Mate leaves are steeped in hot water and the drink is drunk through a metal straw. There are certain practices and rituals around drinking it, and they were happy to share some with us. It tasted really sweet, as she had added lots of sugar, and again I was overwhelmed by the kind gesture. We took some photos of us and the bikes and then we were on our way again.
We arrived in to the small town, which had a large square with a cathedral and lots of sports fields. We found a big supermarket and stocked up on lots of food for dinner and then cycled to the police station. We thought they would be the best people to ask where we could camp as we couldn't see anyone in any of the sports grounds. After a lot of confusion, they finally took us to one of the grounds where we could set up the tent. We didn't realise until later but they were concerned that there were no bathrooms for us to use and were trying to arrange for someone to open up the facilities for us. They were extremely kind and came to check later that we had everything that we needed. We dined on a big dinner of beef, with lots of vegetables and rice and went to bed considering all of our friendly encounters we had over the course of the day.
We dragged our feet before finally making a very late departure from the hotel. We had little energy or motivation to cycle and considered having another day off the bikes. We would have been a lot more enticed to stay if we thought we would have easy access to food, but after yesterdays fasting we were not convinced that getting food would be easy. We looked out of the window at the grey, dark clouds and noticed that the leaves on the tree lined streets were changing to a brown-orange colour. Like the Canadian geese, Kory felt the migratory pull to return to Canada for the summer and leave the cooler temperatures in the south, and started to think about the flight home. This obviously did nothing to improve my mood.