We’ve been amazed by the generosity and hospitality of the Argentines which we have randomly stumbled across. Locals have instantly welcomed us into their homes and daily activities with open arms, have shown immense pride in the Argentine culture by sharing specialities, stories and facts specific to a region or town. We have found ourselves joining snippets of people’s daily lives, eating at their table; and each time we’re about to pedal-on, our friends have surprised and honoured us with heart-felt gifts and reminders of our time spent in their company.
Earlier this week, while cycling into Chajari, two cyclists caught up with us and one, Eduardo, invited us to a Sunday afternoon Parilla (delicious Argentinian mixed grill) with their cycling group down by the Rio Uruguay.
Eduardo, a hairdresser, salon owner, and avid cyclist admitted to not being able to go more than two days without cycling; that he’ll sometimes nip out during the night for a spin. Upon arrival at the beach, the parilla was in full swing with racks of beef, pork, morcillas & chorizos (sausages) sizzling, and traditional music playing. With a glass of local vino tinto (red wine) mixed with coca-cola in one hand, local beer mixed with coca-cola in the other hand and fernet branco (local liquor) mixed with coca-cola placed on the table… we indulged in various cuts of scrumptious meat.
Throughout the afternoon we felt right at home, laughing and conversing with a group of people from a variety of backgrounds and ages, who share the same passion and interest as we do. It was like spending the afternoon with a good old group of friends, while being initiated to local dance steps, burning our lips on our very first mate, and learning about the Ceibo, Argentinian national flower. As we left, Simon successfully undertook the challenge of riding a home-made Penneyfarthing.
The same day, Sergio and Anna’s orange plantations housed our tents. Sergio introduced us to the 40acres of land which he manages; while Anna enlightened us on the various ways of picking and packaging oranges. Within minutes of arrival, they offered us a juicy water-melon and honey-suckle melon from their garden which we literally devoured. Sergio later popped out with some mate for us to share, gifted us his personal mate cup and invited us to join his family for dinner. Touched by the generosity of this family, we scrambled for a gift in return. Quite shamefully, the only gift we rustled up came straight off Simon’s back: an expedition t-shirt! And we brought our food in to cook and share with them.
As we pedal on the generosity, enthusiasm and curiosity of each encounter continues to humble us. Its trully amazing how generous people can be.