Overcoming challenges

It’s been over three weeks since I last posted and Soph and I have adapted to being on the road together. We’ve overcome a few challenges and found a steady rhythm that works for us: not too fast, ensuring we get plenty of rest and time to enjoy the places we stop at.

The environment has changed plenty in three weeks. We’ve gone from the flatlands of the Buenos Aires and La Pampa provinces to the edge of the Andes. The temperature has cooled from uncomfortable baking heat to a far more pleasant warmth and, as we’ve climbed out from the wet ground of the low-lying areas, the number of mosquitoes has nosedived.

floods in La Pampa

floods in La Pampa

The mosquitos had been a total nightmare for Soph. Maybe her blood is sweeter than mine, I’m not sure, but they went wild for her. No respite for days on end, they swarmed around her even when cycling, causing nasty swollen blotches all down her legs and back. We lay in the tent at night, watching the bastards queue up on the netting, waiting for us to leave the tent so they could eat us. With her red blotchy face and road fatigue, it’s a wonder she decided to keep on keeping on instead of packing it all in.

She’s also done well to overcome her crippling arachnophobia. The sight of the smallest spider used to make her shriek. Valentine’s Day was an experience, camped next to a rusting oil tanker by the side of the road, covered in sweat and grime, with the mosquitoes swarming and the spiders hanging around on the outside of the tent. It was sink or swim for her that night. I think, looking back, that was the start of her dealing with her fear of spiders. We both know they’re going to get larger and meaner as the trip goes on.

Soph at the border of La Pampa

Soph at the border of La Pampa

Another challenge had been the oppressive lack of shade. In La Pampa and San Luis especially, the long empty roads offered no shelter from the powerful sun. Never a tree or a bus stop. Just the sun, the road, and the miles we had to ride. When making lunch on the roadside one time, a cop pulled over just to make sure we were ok. Reassuring. We’re both glad the temperature has dropped as we head into autumn.

And we’ve overcome the challenge of learning how to be on the road with each other. It was never going to be easy, spending 24 hours a day together in relatively trying circumstances. We had our teething problems but we’ve settled down and found a balance.

I can remember the night when there was a shift from me taking control of everything, and generally being a bit of a domineering ass to us working smoothly with trust: we had arrived in the small town of Rancul after a long day riding. We found a free campsite with electricity sockets and a swimming pool. ‘Perfect!’ I thought. ‘This is ideal. Let’s pitch up here, take a swim and chill for the night’. Soph was unsure. I got a little frustrated when she said she wasn’t so happy with the place, feeling that perhaps she was being too picky. Why, after all, should we leave just because she had ‘a feeling’. But her feeling was totally vindicated when she heard two boys talking about how they could steal our bikes, and when a young man approached us asking if we had any dollars on us. If we stayed the night there, I have no doubt that we would have been robbed. ‘Feelings’ may be intangible and irrational, but instinct can be a powerful leader.

I learned to let go and allow Soph to take control of certain situations. We have different skillsets, which complement each other nicely. Through overcoming situations and learning how to work effectively together, we’ve become a strong team. Long may it continue!

Vida! Saúde! Felicidade!

Mike

As ever, if you’ve enjoyed reading these posts, or if you see value and a challenge in this trip, or if you’d simply like to support a wonderful cause, it would be great if you drop a little sum towards my fundraising goal for the Teenage Cancer Trust. Head over to https://www.justgiving.com/Mike-Edmondstone/ to get involved. Thanks :)

 

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