After a long day of riding and stressing and fixing (we got up early in the morning, left and then the bike literally died as described in Andrew’s 1st mechanical failure post….so after 4 hours of jimmying wires…literally connecting the wire and then covering them with tape… we left for Comodoro Rivadavia), which involved putting on nearly all the clothing I own and riding the last 50km through a rainstorm, we arrived.
We walked into the first hotel/ accommodation like looking place as we were literally frozen to the bone. We started to communicate in broken Spanish (mine more broken than Andy’s) and then the night manager started speaking English with an Afrikaans accent. I couldn’t quite believe it so I started to speak Afrikaans and low and behold he was one of the descendants of the Afrikaans settlers who came here after the Anglo-Boer war. What an amazing man…. the stories he had were phenomenal and the life farming here was really hard. The temperatures here drop to well below freezing and the winds have been known to crack windscreens and push cars down the road. He told stories about early settlers digging sheep out of snow and about settlers hitting oil instead of water. One would think that could be a good thing but here in Argentina all natural resources more than one meter below the surface belong to the government.
In this photo you can see how barren the land is. To me it has a stark beauty but it is really freezing and windy.
We happened to arrive on a Saturday evening and Oom Jan (the night manager) gave us directions to the NG Kerk service the next morning. We met most of the South African’s there (there are only about 15 to 20 left so it was quite amazing that Oom Jan was working in the hostel that we stopped at). What an amazing experience. We were very warmly told that this was our home and after the service we were invited for tea by one of the gemeentelede and also taken for a 2 and a half hour ride around town. Quite something speaking Afrikaans and feeling like we were back home.
Most of the people that could speak Afrikaans were over 60 years of age and were the first descendants of the settlers. They mostly speak Afrikaans and Spanish. Their children never learnt Afrikaans so the language in Argentina will die with them. This was quite a thought as we realised that if our children came back in 30 odd years there will be no Afrikaans here.