Cordoba – Oncativo – Villa Maria – San Marcos Sur – Cañada de Gomez – Rosario – 410.6km
Rosario has been a bit of an unexpected homecoming experience. The stretch of towering apartment buildings overlooking a long green park area along a wide riverfront with people jogging by reminded me of downtown Vancouver, looking out into English Bay. We rode a city bus the other day and they seemed to be the same as back home. These reminders of home are strange because on the one day, it makes it more real that our trip is starting to come to a close and we are in the final stretch of our ride…but on the other hand, we still have over a month and a half left before we actually arrive home!
It is also a homecoming experience because our journey has shifted focus from riding the drop dead, breathtaking (often literally) landscapes of the majestic Andes mountains and the otherworldly Altiplano to the friends we get to see again and potential new friends to make. Urban areas are never too far from us these days and even the more remote areas are long endless stretches of farmers fields.
The whole ride from Cordoba to Rosario, all 410km of it over 5 days of riding, was basically one vast rolling sea of soybeans.
The riding is flat and monotomous but there are clouds of butterflies and dragonflies and many gas stations with air-conditioned cafes and delicious cappuchinos. The joy in this part of our trip is really from the amazing people. On our first day out of Cordoba, we made it to Oncativo, an industrial town 72km away. The next day, we rode another 73k and made it to Villa Maria, where we stayed with a Couchsurfing host Betsy and randomly caught the last day of the folklore festival there. Eventhough we were riding the next day, we danced, drank Fernet and wine and ate empanadas and a thick Argentinean bean stew called lorco to folkloric music until 3am.
The following day was an extremely hot ride and we made it to San Marcos where got interviewed by the local radio station. I did a 20 minute interview all in Spanish!
We then rode 110km to Cañada de Gomez (Cañada is not Canada the country we’re from but with the ‘ñ’ actually changes the whole emphasis on the word and is Spanish for canal) where we stayed in the lovely home of Hugo and Maria Luce. Both of them are specialist doctors and have an amazing dog, Lola, who can turn a door handle to open doors! Lola doesn’t close the doors though.
Finally, we made the 75km ride into Rosario, which was generally straight and through rural farmlands and pseudo-rural areas filled with weekend escape mansions.
In Rosario, we stayed right in downtown in a forest of tall apartment buildings with Andrea, an super talented musician that we first met over Christmas in Cafayate. Mattias, the German cyclist, that we have kept running into throughout South America including the last time over Christmas, was also there.
We spent some lovely days ice cream stop hopping, having mate at the park by the riverfront, going over to one of the leafy green islands in the river for a beach day and hanging out with each other. One night, we met up with Augustin, Soledad and Patricio who were also cyclists that we spent Christmas with in Cafayate, and we had asado BBQ with lots of meat and Fernet to drink on night by the river. We had meant to leave on Thursday but ended up staying another four days because thee was something happening the next day. We got to see Andrea preform one night at a rowdy Jazz Jam Night at a bar in the city, which remarkably was packed full on a Wednesday night! Bryan and I a tend to call it a night after 3-4am and we’re usually the earliest ones! It was also Soledad’s birthday so there was a huge party at her house to celebrate where they turned one of the rooms into a dance hall. Rosario has felt like a homecoming because it has been all about seeing friends. It is incredible that the friendships we made over Christmas has continued throughout the rest of our journey in Argentina as we are lucky to visit some of them in our route. A house is a place but a home is the people you love, care for and laugh with. Our first home will always be our amazing family and friends in Vancouver but I think people can grow to have more homes, more places where they feel comfortable and where you cross that line from tourist seeing the local sights to more simply hanging out. Coming to Rosario to visit friends has felt a bit like we were coming home.