Back-to-work blues. Our planned weekend-break off our route to renew Argentinian visas, check on our floating home in Uruguay and renew certain kit items turned into a 12 day mega-break (escape?) from the running, breaking all my spreadsheets and plans for a big January total, such ill-discipline! Our bodies were screaming for break after 25-weeks of nearly 100-mile weeks and in the end we bowed to wisdom and took some time out. The consequences of this break and the news we relayed in the newsletter as to the true distance of the challenge growing by 20% will have repercussions on our tight schedule but we needed some time off and reveled in it!
We stayed with our wonderful friends David and Geraldine, a Uruguayan couple we had met some months before whilst in the planning stages and who are already doing us immense favours in looking after expedition gear and our boat and with whom we immediately bonded. Ever since the decision to take a break with them was made we had dreamed of returning to their tranquil farmstead in the “campo” and relaxing with them away from the 5000 mile project. It was incredibly rejuvenating to be able to express ourselves fully to like-minds in a common tongue (they speak English so eloquently it’s impossible to accept that their first language should really be Spanish) – not that anything of great philosophical importance came out from our side, just nice to chat freely!! We played in the water, blessed water, ate fresh food, soaked in the pool in the evenings again as the screech owls huddled next to us intrigued by these humans, and were regaled by their lifetime of stories of wildlife encounters and living on the diary farm.
We drank gallons of fresh unpasturised milk, best served cold and before Geraldine could skim any of the heavenly cream off the top!
A friend of ours from the south of Argentina said of a true friend that you will always go back to them hoping to repay the debt of gratitude you owe, but by the time you leave once more the debt always seems to have grown. It couldn’t be more apt in this case.
Lista Light (our sailing boat, expedition HQ and home) was fine, sadly she was no better for leaving her, but great news that she was no worse either. Strangely the bilge pumps that are so vital at pumping out the water that ingresses and that had been so reliably triggered once a day for 180 days since we left …. stopped! I thought they were broken but it turns out she just stopped leaking (crying?) when we arrived home! I assume she has resumed in our absence. Perhaps a catfish was sucked into whichever hole exists by hydrostatic pressure and remains there, pinned to the hull. While I was there I was able to witness an Argentine yacht anchoring with his saildrive and keel straddling our stern line, then all chaos broke lose as they tried to move. Very Latino indeed. Must be an everyday occurrence in our absence I suppose. The lines have only been cut once.
So, as we resume we are in an oven now, at least 37 degrees max per day, sometimes more. Friends tell us that it is positively fresh here compared to La Rioja and Catamarca where 47 degrees is not unusual and barely noteworthy. I don’t know how one breathes when it is that hot but I imagine we’ll find out as our new route takes us right through both cities. The land is mostly flat though which is important as we have two-weeks of miles to catch up somehow and the pains we hoped may ebb with the time off did not.
The first 2 days back running since San Luis were simply horrible. Nice countryside alongside the hills of San Luis and gargantuan Boa constrictor snakes (lampalagua is the local word) could do little to brighten the mood as I considered if it would really be possible to continue with the pain in our knees and the scorching sun, the extreme levels of discomfort and lack of sleep. Worse still, Kath was referred to as “mama” by a local lady, attempting to be polite no doubt, which somewhat mislanded as my dear wife felt something like “senorita” would have been a better placed – hell hath no fury like a woman scorned . . . . intentionally or otherwise it seems.
But fear not – all is well on the 5000 mile project as we approach yet another Argentinian province, La Rioja. Here we are, two days forth since the emotional wobble, two days closer, two days happier. Two changes we have made to kit may help, too. Using relics of electrical expertise from days aboard our floating home I spent small parts of our time off constructively and rigged up our very own Solar powered fan!!!
Using an old computer fan and a USB cable cut in two it provides a little breeze if none exists. Power from the sun provides the juice, stored up from the day time for use at night. The fan accepts voltage from 5v to 19v and does something to tame unwanted flies who stray into its blades too! I have yet to put it to the test at 24v (the mighty high top option we have on the power gorilla) and not sure I want to be locked in the hammock when i try it. Bedtime has never been so fun! On that note bedtime routine is now a little different too, as we take to hennessy hammocks when we can, to hang freely with breeze all around. It’ll take some getting used to I think, not only the logistics of getting into it and lying comfortably, but also finding the right combination of trees for Kath and I to lie close by. Not very romantic mind you, but neither was having weavils and ants crawl over ones face all night. We have decided to set the alarm for 04:30 each day which is also taking some getting used to.
So, off we go again, 4 days of food in the bag and with dreams of a cloudy day….. sorry to those in the Northern hemisphere inundated in snow and rain right now but believe me it could be worse!