2011/04/28-29: In Paraná
We spent two days in Paraná, hoping to manage a day’s kayaking down an arroyo or backwater of the Rio Paraná, actually more of a broad wetland than a river. We spent a quiet day on Thursday, having booked the kayak outing for Friday. When we woke to torrential rain, however, a joint decision to cancel the outing was made. We re-booked for Saturday, but the company cancelled our outing on Friday evening. We were the only clients, and the guide had another commitment.
Basically, we strolled and drank coffee for two days, and were entertained by the high jinks of the hockey team lads, who ranged in age from mid-teens to thirties. The younger ones were travelling to a big tournament for the first time, and had their heads oddly shaved as an initiation rite. They were loud at times, but went to bed at a decent hour.
2011/04/30: Bus to Córdoba
We managed to get ourselves and our bikes onto a bus from Paraná to Cordoba, so as to avoid what would have been a very boring four day ride across dead flat cultivated land. On the bus, we realized the road had no shoulder and would also have been quite a dangerous ride. Our management of the bike loading scenario was somewhat better than the last fiasco, but I still stressed about it.
The bus took us under the main river channel through a tunnel to Santa Fe, and then across a causeway from which we could see the wetland. The water level was high, and cattle stood belly-deep as they grazed. I bet we could have kayaked through flooded forest, but it was not to be.
The bikes emerged unscathed in Córdoba, a huge relief. Any further logistical moves will be at the end of our journey, and by then bike damage will have minimal impact. Chris calms me by explaining his perspective, comparing the risk of minor bike damage to the risk to our bodies if we’d chosen to crank for long days on a straight road with buses and trucks passing us far too close. The rational scientist ….but it’s for him to detach himself when his lack of language skills means he doesn’t have to try and talk to the baggage loading muchachos. We found a hostel listed in Lonely Planet. The resident Labrador retriever is friendly, but we are starting to suspect the place has fleas.
2011/05/01: Labour Day Holiday in Córdoba
Everything is closed because of the holiday. We walked, took photos, and drank coffee. Outside Basilica de Santo Domingo, much attention was being paid to an odd-looking vehicle we later confirmed to be el papamóvil used during Pope John Paul ll’s visits here in 1982 and 87. (Apparently he is being beatified in Rome today.) So now we can say we’ve seen a Pope-mobile at close range. Such excitement?
The weather is bright and clear, but it’s getting downright chilly. We’ve moved into a southern fall at higher altitude. Tomorrow we hope to ride as far as Alta Gracia, a town with an historic estancia, dams and an irrigation system built by the Jesuits in the 17th century. It’s also where Che Guevara spent his teen years, since the climate of the Central Sierra was deemed to be better for his asthma that that in his birth city, Rosario.