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    South by South America Tour – Argentina Part 13

    Sunday, August 11, 2019
    Buenos Aires, Argentina

    A nice clock tower across the street from the Retiro subway station in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
    A nice clock tower across the street from the Retiro subway station in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

    Right after breakfast, I went to unlock my backpack, which I had locked to the bed frame, but the cheap little lock would not open. When I inserted the key, it would just spin around and around. After repeated unsuccessful attempts to open it by myself and the hostel clerk, he said he’d call a guy who does odd jobs for the hostel who could cut it off. A short while later, that guy showed up with a big hack saw. As soon as he grabbed the lock and started to saw it, the thing just unexpectedly popped right open, eliciting laughter all around. The hostel was nice enough to let me hang out in the living room to wait for my bus to Mendoza later that evening. After I re-packed my backpack, I watched a little TV and then took a nap on the couch for three or four hours, as I had only slept three hours the night before. After visiting an ATM and downing some lukewarm-to-cold grub at a buffet joint across the street, I grabbed my stuff, said my goodbyes to the staff and fellow guests, and took the subway a few stops over to the Retiro station.

    I was told the bus terminal was right there, but after walking around in circles up and down the street in front of the place for a little while, I asked an old couple at a food cart which way to go and they pointed down the street. Although we didn’t speak each others’ languages, it was amazing how much we could communicate with just a few words and gestures. In general, this area seemed a bit more scrappy than the other districts I visited in Buenos Aires. Arriving at the gigantic bus terminal, I schlepped around for quite a while looking for the right platform, but couldn’t find it. My bus was due to leave at 8:00 pm and even by 7:00 it hadn’t showed up on the electric departures sign. I found an information booth, but the guy spoke no English. He pointed upstairs, so I trundled all around up there looking for the bus company printed on my ticket. I must have walked past over 100 booths representing dozens of other bus lines, except for mine.

    A lap tray on the Via Barriloche bus from Buenos Aires to Mendoza, Argentina.
    A lap tray on the Via Barriloche bus from Buenos Aires to Mendoza, Argentina.

    Exasperated; I went back downstairs and saw a bus bound for Mendoza. The only problem was a different bus company’s name was painted on the side. I showed a guy working for that bus my ticket. He said no and motioned for me to wait at a different platform while speaking Spanish. I was beyond the point of hoping my bus would ever show up. Finally, just a few minutes before 8:00 pm, the right bus pulled in. The staff wouldn’t let me take my big backpack to my seat, so I was forced to check it. Then I realized my neck pillow was in my backpack, so I had to open it up. I moved over to the next platform to get out of everyone’s way. But, before I could get my backpack closed again, they shut the door of the luggage compartment. I yelled out, “No!” and luckily they opened it back up.

    As I tried to pick up my still open backpack to quickly carry it back over there, at various moments I dropped my passport; my neck pillow and my ticket as I awkwardly struggled with the backpack and my messenger bag that holds my laptop and camera, etc. I’m sure this whole little episode looked like a scene straight out of a zany comedy film. Finally, a few minutes after I sat down in my top floor front row seat, the bus departed from the terminal. After stopping at a few smaller terminals, bus stops and several toll plazas, we made our way out of Buenos Aires. Since this bus was “executive class,” we were served dinner on a neat little lap tray, the likes of which I’ve never seen before. Some annoying and awful music videos with synthetic beats and Auto Tuned vocals played, followed by a super hero action movie. Fortunately, after that, the screen went dark and there was peace and quiet. For the first time in recorded history, none of the other passengers, at least within earshot, talked at all. It was astonishing.

    Words and photos ©2019 Arcane Candy.

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