‘Isn’t it hard to be friendly all the time when you are invited in the house of a new family?’ Mia asks us. Can’t we look angry because we didn’t sleep well or just want to? Almost every day we meet new people on our way. They invite us for a lunch or offer a bed to sleep for the night. Those meetings are the essence of our world trip and make every day a new adventure. If we would only cycle and never meet other people, we would be home already. During our trip we meet hundreds of people, but do we have to energy to smile all the time?
After a long trip with the truck we arrive in Posadas. Yesterday evening around ten o’clock we left Zárate, an hour outside of Buenos Aires, and drove until five o’clock in the morning. All night long we kept Jonathan, the truck driver, awake because he almost didn’t sleep the night before. With a lot of energy drink, coffee and loud music, we survive the night. In one of the petrol stations we changes trucks because Jonathan heads north west and we want to go north east. Without an hour of sleeping we jump into Checho’s truck and keep him company until we arrive in Posadas, exhausted. We have no time to rest because Rossy, a warmshower host, waits for us. Following the Argentinian tradition diner is served around ten o’clock in the evening and we fight against the sleep. We desperately need a bed, but like always we change our rhythm to the family where we stay. Sometimes it takes a little bit of effort, but most of the times we get a lot of energy from the hospitable invitations and all the interesting conversations. We spent hours around kitchen tables, tell everything about our trip and learn everything about the local culture. Even a hundred times the same story about our trip, doesn’t bother us. We are always surprised about the new questions they come up with and the admiration in their eyes. On all those evenings we don’t think about sleeping, looking angry or being friendly because we have to. And when one of us is tired, the other fills up the gap. Their is always one of us to be happy.
Our home changes every day. Sometimes we sleep into the tent, but more often in the houses of families. In the tent we can talk Dutch, burp and eat with our hands. Inside the house of a family we change our tent habits and are always polite. Stop burping or eating with cutlery isn’t a problem, but the temptation to talk in Dutch to each other is always difficult. Some hosts don’t matter, but others look strange when we start talking in a strange language, and feel offended. We try to avoid it as much as possible, but sometimes we just want to discuss something in Dutch. After one and half year on the bicycle we know each others preferences pretty well and only need a blink of an eye to know what the other one wants. We always adapt ourselves to the other persons, but that doesn’t take much effort. Contrarily, we are so used to meeting strangers, that being polite and respectful has become our second nature.
We often stay a couple of days with a family. In most of the houses of South America it is impolite to leave after one day. They expect us to stay minimum two to three days. When we arrive in a small village around lunchtime and have a lunch on a square, there always come to people for a chat. ‘How long do you stay in the village?’ they always ask. With some embarrassment we have to say that we only stay for a lunch break. It doesn’t matter how small the village is, they always find an excuse to make us stay longer. Sometimes we have other plans and try to find a respectful way to tell that we want to head on. Maybe that’s the most difficult part. We know that they will be disappointed with our answer, but we can’t stay forever in all the places.
Is it difficult to be friendly all the time? Sometimes we want to be alone. The combination between the tent and meeting the people is the best combination. This way we keep on smiling! ‘The adventure overcomes the fatigues’ like Padre Antonio taught us in Chile.