. It was trapped in the rubber and invisible to the naked eye, but it had slowly worn at least four holes in the tubes. I was delighted to be able to solve the mystery and hopefully it will be the last puncture we have to fix on the trip.
We cycled out of town via the supermarket to stock up on supplies for the day and the main square to take a few photos. We were happy to be back on the road, as we had such a good day yesterday, and the route today looked like it would be similar. The traffic was light and we were whizzing down the good, paved road. We had farmland on either side, and noticed that the fields and the buildings were huge. The farm machinery was also on the large, industrial scale and they clearly weren't just growing crops to feed themselves and their family, like we have seen in the other countries so far. There were huge grain stores sprouted across the land. The landscape reminded Kory of home, but I don't think we have much machinery that large or fields so huge in the UK. Instead it reminded me more of the agricultural methods in New Zealand.
The sun was shining and there wasn't a cloud in the sky, it was looking like it was going to be a glorious day. We stopped a couple of times as we cycled passed the small towns, that were beside the highway
. They looked a lot more modern than we have been used to, and the housing looked like you may see at home. Each of the towns had lots of green areas and the ever-present church steeple in the background. They each advertised museums and displays on the history of the area to entice you to steer off the road and entering the small residential areas. We stopped at a couple of petrol stations and rewarded our hard work with cups of delicious coffee. It was becoming a very similar experience to what you would expect at home, air conditioning, a choice of pastries and sandwiches, fake leather booths and WIFI. The only problem was that I felt a sense of embarrassment that I haven't felt so far on this trip, as we usually frequent fairly dirty, small scale restaurants, and sit of plastic chairs. Now it was far more noticeable that we hadn't had a decent shower for days, haven't seen a mirror for at least that long and rather embarrassingly, leave sweat marks on the black, fake leather seats in the shape of our bums! It didn't stop us from going in and enjoying the refreshments though, and each time we stopped a truck driver or local farmer would come over to ask us about our trip, which felt really welcoming. We have noticed that in this area they always finish by saying "suerte”, which initially we heard “fuerte”, which means strong, but the very similar pronunciation actually means luck. Either way we need both luck and strength and would be happy with either well wishing.
We stopped for a large lunch of leftovers from the night before, along with some bread rolls from the bakery and some fruit
. We don't need much but it makes all the difference to be cycling big miles with full bellies, rather than dreaming about food all of the time. The rest of the day continued in much the same vein as the morning, with fairly flat agricultural land on both sides of the road and amazing weather. As the birds flocked in the sky searching for a place to roost for the night, and our shadows grew long across the road we were stopped by a man by the side of the road. He had driven passed us and then stopped to offer us a place to stay for the night. He was extremely kind and we would have loved to have taken him up on the offer, but he lived 30km away, and it was too far for us to go before the sun went down. He told us to look out for him tomorrow in case we needed anything, and wished us luck for the trip. It was a really kind gesture and we have been overwhelmed with friendly and welcoming gestures in the last couple of days by the local people of this area.
As we arrived in to the town we were pleased to see that it was another friendly, modern settlement, with tree lined roads and big play parks for the children. Our first stop was the supermarket, where we bought some food for dinner and then flagged down a policeman who was out on patrol. Before I could get a sentence out he asked if we needed a place to camp for the night. He told us to follow him and then drove us to the edge of town where there was a large park and a complex with camping facilities, lots of picnic benches, an empty swimming pool and a bathroom block
. He asked the grounds-keeper and they both said they were happy for us to camp for the night. Perfect, it was out of the way and quiet, and had all the facilities we needed; a toilet, a shower (both preferable but not necessary) and a flat place to put the tent up. The shower had a sign up requesting that you have a quick shower only, as water is a finite source, to which I chuckled, it was so cold, I didn't need telling twice.
We spent another enjoyable evening, cooking up a feast of beef, with rice and lots of vegetables, in a herb sauce. It was fairly adventurous on a one-burner camp stove but definitely worth it to replenish our tired muscles. Lets hope we have another beautiful day tomorrow, and meet more kind hearted locals.
We woke up in the sports ground, to see a beautiful red sky sunrise in the morning, which I immediately took to be an ominous sign for the weather ahead but ignored the feeling for long enough to enjoy the view. We got packed up and ready to roll our wheels at 9.30am, but again, as soon as we tried to leave Kory noticed that he had a flat tyre. As we looked for the cause of the puncture site we couldn't find it and again put it down to the tube being worn from being sat in Kory's bag for the last five months. It just didn't add up though, as we changed the tube a week ago, because the other tube kept getting punctures and now the brand new tube already had three patches on it, it is ridiculous. I decided to feel every square inch inside the tyre with the tips of my fingers and check for any tiny imperfections. All I could feel was one tiny dot, that felt like a grain of sand. It took me the entire time that it took Kory to fix the puncture but with enough wiggling with tweezers, and poking and prodding I finally retrieved a mangled thorn that had become wedged in the kevlar enforced tyres