(Fake photo out of respect but the closest resemblance I could find!)
It’s a kind of warm Monday afternoon, I’ve done my hand-washing and hung everything on the line on a “make-shift” first floor; more of a toilet, laundry, and a washing line resting on the metal corrugated roof of this youth hostel I am staying in. You kind of go into robotic mode after a few months, apply travel wash, don’t despair if the water isn’t hot as it will clean anyway. You squeeze every item with every ounce of energy in you to try and get rid of excess water, and no matter how much you try, there’s always some left. Its mostly dust and dirt that gets awash quickly, but you do hope the travel wash also gets rid of all odours. As I climb deown the ladder it’s like you really don’t want to slip and fall.
Anyway, its 230pm and time to go. The travel books, blogs and the receptionist all tell me the same thing, to just walk over to the bridge and there will be a row of land-rovers with drivers waiting to take you up to Serrania del Hornocal – just 45mins’ drive up the mountains and you will probably spend half hr browsing taking photos before returning.
As I walk over to the bridge I notice an elderly couple, clearly travellers and eating local jelly. The street sellers parade them on the streets everywhere, in plastic cups. They are consistently raspberry or blackcurrant flavoured across South America, cost around 5p each and they’re popular although especially with local people. The couple both have rather light white skin. The husband is wearing an American cap, has white socks pulled up. The wife has a heavy handbag, and an annoying pole stick for mobile phone selfies. It is just easy to assume they’re tourists.
As I find a jeep awaiting customers and quickly agree with the driver to expected costs of 350 Argentinian Pesos (about 7pounds), I look over to the couple and wave them over to join me. They both quickly walk over in a favourable manner and get into the back seat. The driver starts the jeep in motion and we speedily drive away.
As we leave the bridge, I turn around to the couple and we shake hands favourably. I immediately recognise that I cannot lipread them and that they aren’t speaking English. The introductory conversation goes something like this
Tyron: Where are you from?
Wife: Georgia, Atlanta
Husband: (says something that looks like Wan)
Husband: Si, Wan
Tyron: Where’s Wan? Please write it for me
Wife: I’m Georgia and he’s Wan
Tyron: Sorry I don’t know where is Wan
(passes mobile phone over and asks them to type)
(Wife types away, gives phone back)
Mobile screen: My name is Jorgina, and he is Juan.
Lol – gosh, that’s a funny one, all the time they were telling me their names and I thought they were telling me where they were from! Wan was Juan! Georgia was Jurgia.
I indicate I’m from England, pointing to my worn out red England t-shirt from when we were playing the World Cup. They acknowledge, and tell me they’re from Buenos Aeries. They’re Argentinian!! No sun-tan and pretty dolled up. I am quickly realising people are looking different across Argentina.
I can see that they’ve been married a long time, they totally get each other, they kind of finish off each other’s sentences. I don’t understand a word they’re saying, but you can easily see it. She wears a lot of make up, talks a lot and is genuinely interested in everything the driver has to say about the mountain scenery. Juan (not Wan(!)) has a short moustache, he looks rather excited to see the mountain and is looking out the window all the time.
All I can see is the driver using his palms and fingers to gesture almost every 4th or 5th word he is saying to them, he isn’t doing this cos I’m deaf – its just his nature of communicating. It gets rather annoying after a while, I’m sat in the front passenger seat and the rest of the car are having an animated conversation and I’ve no idea what can possibly last the whole 45minutes’ journey. I kind of watch amused later, but still no idea!
We arrive at the car park of the 14-coloured mountain, although dismayed with the excess clouds that have built up in the past hour. Jorgina’s already got her phone on her camera stick, he’s carrying her handbag as they exit the jeep. It’s almost as if she has made a decision to not walk all the way to the mirador view point – some half a mile away from car park. Whilst he is more than content to abide, I suspect he kind of wants to walk there. In a way this couple reminds me of the sitcom Keeping Up Appearances – Hyacinth Bouquet and her husband Richard!
After taking some photos reluctantly with the clouds making them not so picturesque, I turn around and walk up back to the car parking area. Its quite a hike and I didn’t realise we were 4532 feet above sea level, cue coughing, deep short breaths and lots of water.
As I return to the car park, I notice that Jorgina and Juan have already got into the car. I don’t know why, but Jorgina has got into the front passenger seat, my seat! I shouldn’t really care but can’t help feeling like she has stolen my seat! I reluctantly get into the back of the car, out of breath and coughing a bit, whilst she just talks and talks with the driver. They’re like long lost cousins, non stop talking! Juan (Richard!) is next to me and he is attentively listening to their animated conversations, gestures here and there.
I nudge to Juan that Jorgina hasn’t got her seatbelt locked in. He kind of acknowledges this but without any hint of concern. I then gesture that she will be the first out the front window screen, he then gives me this snigger-y expression. I understand and stop going on about it although I feel it is terribly wrong.
We finally return to the bridge, and I see Jorgina thanking the driver profusely. I don’t know if she gave him a tip, they had sorted payment back at the car park which I found weird, as usually you pay at the end of a trip. Both of them give me a wave and set off, Jorgina in front and Juan following 2 steps behind, holding her handbag.
I pay the driver and thank him, I cannot help but wonder if he does this trip daily.