The Pilgrimage Part III - The Ride
Part III – The Ride
On my escape from the boisterous city streets of Santa Fe, I miss only one turn but I quickly right my way and drive north on Highway 11. After Highway 11,the route is west on Highway 70 towards Esperanza. I am ever hopeful for a pleasant day.
I am driving an unfamiliar standard shift vehicle on an unfamiliar busy road. And what if my Spanish is inadequate in case of who knows what? Still, I anticipate a trouble-free pilgrimage to Moisés Ville.
On the outskirts of Santa Fe on Highway 11, I encounter a honking congestion of vans, panel trucks, tractor trailers, construction vehicles, cabs, cars and local buses that all maneuver for an advantage on the less than adequate route. I recall the outbound artery in New York City called the Boston Post Road in the Bronx with clothing stores, small markets, and an unending gamut of gas stations, vehicle repair stalls, used tire shops and a car wash or two.
It’s a short distance on my map from Santa Fe to the turnoff to Route 70, but on the ground, will I ever break free from this ugly traffic?
Finally at the T-shaped intersection at the hardly noticeable village of Recreo, I take a hard left towards the town of Esperanza that is on the way to the city of Rafaela. The map says “95” - about 60 miles. At this rate it’ll take me two hours just to get Rafaela and that’s only halfway to Moisés Ville!
At least I’m now out in the countryside and passing through a series of small towns. But they all have the same roadway configuration: speed bumps. Multiple flashing red or yellow lights warn of multiple speed bumps. Yet, I am proud of my driving. Even with all the constant shifting of the gears, I never stalled the engine. (Well maybe just once when I needed to make a quick U-turn after I went down a wrong street.)
At one small town I stopped for a well-earned café con leche and a tasty sweet cake.
Out here in the middle of nowhere on a rural one-lane road, I am shocked to approach a toll booth, and later, another one! They remind me of Lucas, my driver in Java, Indonesia. When we paid a “toll” on a mountain road, or when we paid an “attendant” a “fee” for a parking space at a restaurant, Lucas explained, with a smile and a hint of resignation, “It’s a small corruption.”
At the end of Route 70, at a confusing roundabout in Rafaela, a lovely young lady at a petrol station pointed me north on to the excellent Highway 34.
(Speaking of a roundabout, or a traffic circle, or as the British would have it, a circus, as in Piccadilly Circus … The very first time I drove a standard shift car was in Paris, many, many long years ago. I was driving our little Peugeot and my wife Alice was navigating. Since we were leaving Paris, our goal was to avoid La Place de l'Étoile, the out-sized traffic circle in the middle of the city that has twelve roads entering and exiting. We failed. I think we drove round and round that circle two or three times before we finally escaped the gravity of “The Star.”)
Now on my own, on a straight highway, at about 60 kilometers north of Rafaela, my map clearly indicates a good secondary road off of Highway 34 towards my destination.
I failed. Again. I completely missed the turn to Moisés Ville!