Cows, illegal checkpoint crossings and crushed shredded wheat!

A sapping heat wilts away our desire to walk any further, as for no obvious reason, we didn’t have a direction, a plan or a desire for any particular thing. Standing at a cross road, the Andes to our immediate right, and flat lands of pasture sweeping across to the ocean on our left. Before fate could take us to the sea, a truck shuddered to a halt. It was going right.

Pablo was heading in the direction his finger was pointing in. With what was probably a question of where we were going, we threw back a shrug. The old guy, perhaps bewildered about our indecision lifts his eyebrows and guns the accelerator. The liberation of choice, was the flavour of the day. So far we had decided to head South each time, generally favouring the main highway. Today, we just began to walk. Living the words of ‘it’s the journey not the destination’.

As Pablo moves us further into the real rural, the emerging mountains and the meandering glacial blue river ascending away from our ever rising road to nowhere captures the attention of my minds eye. Slightly worrying was Pablos Colin Mcrea impersonation of ‘how to drive on a undulating road next to a sheering cliff at speeds not really suitable for a truck with a manifest of three humans and ten mooo’ing beasts in the back.

A hand mime of slow down was received by an acknowledging smile and some minutes later we pass through a border checkpoint without any official recognition. The drivers documents were checked but staying in the tuck we were just waved through. Were we now in Argentina? After all their flag was circulating around the turbulent wind at the checkpoint gate.

Pulling up at the end of the road, which if all things considered was an incredible long driveway. A 2 hour one. Pablo ushers us out of the truck as he manoeuvres the vehicle close to a gated field. Watching from the side, Pablo lifts the rear doors open and not so elegantly, a huddle of cows flow over the side in a chaotic escape for space. Pablo’s assignment complete, we are invited to share a drink with the family of this secluded farm.

We all sit around a white plastic table next to the main house, a very small shack, made from wood with a tin roof and for two children, two adults and some chickens the house looks rather cramped. Whilst chickens inspect the soles of our feet, the lady of the house brings out a jug of clear water and a clear jar of powder. Following by example, I watch as the others engage in the ritual of pouring your water first, followed by a required amount of powder and finally a stir of a spoon.

This drink is locally recognised as ‘Mate’ pronounced m-a-r-t-a-y. A herbal drink like tea. Only with a resulting taste of crushed up shredded wheat. In Argentina, ‘Mate’ is served hot, with varying tastes depending on the herb and any other additives you wish to put with it. It is consumed through a straw which filters out the herbs. It is very likely you will find the locals walking around with it, driving around with it or on horses with it. It goes where they go.

After what was a long thirty minutes of attempted conversation, Pablo assuming we want a lift back from where we came, points at his truck, not before saying goodbye to our host.

Making the drive back, the rally experience of truck driving began again, only forcible slowed, as a tractor swerved out ahead of us, pulling two horse legs along the gravel road, followed by a spotted monochrome dog guarding the rear. ‘How often would I get to see this’ I thought. A thought ending with a confirmation to travel more in the essence of this particular experience.

We ended up in the same position from the beginning of the day, so no progress was made in terms of distance, but progress in living to our ethos of flowing with the wind, had definitely been reached.

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