Two days ago, my first entry pecked away here in Argentina claimed absurdly hot and dry temperatures characterize the climate. That was true on that day, however the two days hence have offered a little bit of everything. So my assumption that Argentina is exclusively hot, dry, and full of friendly people is not quite true (well, the first two aren’t necessarily true. The final claim that everyone is friendly is so far extremely accurate. More on that later).
So day one exhibited temperatures reaching 42 degrees Celsius which is an uncomfortable touch over 107 degrees Fahrenheit, or in contemporary vernacular, “Wicked friggin’ hot.” It was dry and sunny and enough to make you feel unpleasantly toasty just by looking out the window. Here’s a photo I snapped as I stepped outside our hotel of the Liquigas-Cannondale South American support vehicle convoy, complete with a trailer ideal for a vertically challenged mechanic. The trailer door comes to just above my navel, so you’re basically guaranteed to hit your head even by crawling on all fours in the trailer. Thankfully I ride my bike and therefore don’t need to spend more than 0 minutes in there. Look carefully by the driver’s door; I’m fond of the engine snorkel just in case there are any 2+ meter water crossings. Not knowing what we might encounter, I think the only thing lacking here is a snowplow.
The following day was significantly cooler in the morning. Furthermore we were blessed with the added excitement of about seventeen raindrops falling over the course of yet another training ride. Cooler temperatures and undeniable signs that it actually rains here – THAT’S good stuff. It was clear to me that things were bound to start off well that particular day, because I descended to breakfast and found a pair of matching team issue man-purses reserving the patrons’ seats. I prefer to put my book or perhaps my butt in the seat to stake claims to seating rights. Turns out that man-purses serve the same purpose.
That day two was further enhanced by riding for a short stint with a very friendly group of Argentinian cyclists. I had the pleasure of riding along with a fellow named Pampa. I spoke Spanish back in my high school days with the abrupt un-fluidity of your typical American bi-linguist who did not start his second language in kindergarden. That is to say, I speak some Spanish. But with the many similarities of Spanish and now my new, native Italian tongue, I frequently find myself tongue tied speaking some sort of Span-alia-ish while trying to communicate here in the southern hemisphere… complete with hand gestures when I can’t get my point across.
Cutting to the point, I learned from my nuevo amigo Pampa while riding along together past the vast expanses of rolling green fields that Argentina is the 2nd leading exporter of corn in the world and the 3rd leader in soy. Moreover, they will soon be exporting these crops to China. Which is absolutely stunning to me since I figured China was entirely self sufficient by now and certainly telling about just how abundant those crops are here.
Corn fields on a somewhat cloudy day:
One thing you cannot export is an awesome hairdo. And I hairdid! (…thank you, thank you, I’ll be here all night). I think it looks like a clone to Homestar Runner’s 2003 Halloween costume. Given how hot it is here in Argentina, this particular coif is more about style than function. We’ll see how long it lasts.
And continuing the theme of Argentinian exports, I found on my recent cruise through the grocery stores to be fully stocked (and therefore, they’re likely exporting) such fine breakfast offerings as these. However, unable to decide between Best Bran and Good Bran I opted for the lesser known and poorly selling Average Bran.
And lastly, onto the gratuitous friendly nature of the local folks here. I’ve obviously only experienced a small slice of Argentina, but at seemingly every opportunity people go out of their way to encourage us, show their support, and cheer us on… mind you, this is on training rides. Every second or third car that passes us (as we’re training on the country’s main two-lane highways) lets out a festive toot with hands clapping, cameras flashing out the window, and giddy oles of encouragement. Cars frequently pass us and stop on the side of the road to catch the fly-by photo op’. And it was during the aforementioned bran cereal grocery shop that a very kind old woman and her grandson approached me and asked me all about how I’m liking Argentina, how we expect the racing to go, how’s the weather (ahem, why such a boring blog post is important), and plenty of other stuff. At which point I continued to hone my Span-alia-ish to her delight.