Afrikaans in Argentina (17th and 18th March)

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.

Would you be able to farm this with winds up to 220km per hour and temperatures that drop to below freezing?

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.

Oom Jan and me outside the hotel

Categories: Diary | 12 Comments

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12 thoughts on “Afrikaans in Argentina (17th and 18th March)

  1. Tanya

    Hey Guys!
    Despite all the mechanical failures and hard weather you still enjoyed the warmth of wonderful people. Your adventure sounds amazing… I must admit, I think it’s too hard core for me! I’m thinking of something a little easier after the dreadful college exams are done!
    God’s speed!

  2. erna

    Hi lady – dis awesome om so saam te toer – baie baie dankie vir die geleentheid!! geniet elke oomblik en drink elke geleentheid in!!! eintlik sal ek kan doen met ‘n biki koel weer – LOL liefde erna

  3. jenny butt

    Wow Cath! Really enjoying your updates! What an adventure! Hope it gets warmer soon. 30 degrees in CT today. jen

    • Cathy

      Am so jealous of your weather. 8 degrees here now so pretty cold.
      So great to hear fro you
      Hope all is well
      xxx C

  4. Joe Plunkett

    Really sorry not to have met you and Andrew here in Ushuaia. I met your Dad in El Calafate on the Glacier tour, I was buried with work this week, and just reading his email about your coming here. Its too bad the weather was not so kind during your visit, while is frequently changeable, last week was more rainy than most of the time I have been here. Next time you guys fear running out of fuel, just relax and hoist a kite off the front fork. It should be good for at least 30km./hr with the winds down here !! Be safe and enjoy the journey!

  5. Janine Potgieter

    Hi Cath!

    We were there at exactly the same time of year – even though we packed all the clothing we thought we could need – one of the first things we did was buy thicker jackets and gloves… Its icy!!! Cant believe you are on a bike! Ride North my friends! Enjoy!

    • Cathy

      We have just left Ushuia….. it was really cold!!!!
      Tomorrow we are heading to an Estancia and Andrew is going to go trout fishing and is going to try to catch the big one.
      Thanks so much for your message

  6. Rosemary

    Hi Cathy – thanks for the great update on your trip. It sounds really amazing especially the cold & galeforce wind….. do take care. It must have been so amazing to find Afrikaans speaking community. Look forward to hearing from you again soon. Enjoy enjoy. Miss you. Love Rose

    • Cathy

      Hello Rose Rose
      we had such a lovely day of riding today and I was thinking of you.
      I’llput some pictures up soon.
      Kee well too
      Lots of love

  7. Cheryl Murphy

    Hi Cath sound like you are having a magical and very fascinating trip – would love to be there but not in that COLD weather!! Love reading all the exciting news, keep it flowing. All send their best wishes from the SPS. Miss you. Lots of luv Cheryl. xx

  8. wow just love such amazing coincidents, suddenly shrinks the world… I’m seriously impressed with your amazing spirit and taking everyhing in your stride! Can not wait for the next update keep well and warm

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