Day two of the three day bus ride from Buenos Aires to Lima.
I’ve discovered a number of things today about travel, and about myself.
First, even if you pack a whole lot of dried apple slices, almonds and walnuts, and a few granola bars for flavor, there’s no way you can avoid buying snack food when the bus stops at a small town or checkpoint to refuel. You’re just so happy to be walking around on your own feet that you can’t help but want to celebrate. Lay’s for everyone (the potato chip…this isn’t that other kind of celebration)! Alfajores? Don’t mind if I do!
I further learned that alpacas are fuzzy in a way that sheep only wish they could be.
Also, Chilean checkpoints take forever no matter where you try to cross from Argentina. I crossed once on my way down to Ushuaia, and once again now, and both times it’s taken hours to get a busload of maybe 30 people through the line and their passports stamped, even when rushed to the front of the queue.
The logistics of this are boggling to me. I’ll report back if I’m able to figure out how they’ve mastered the art of the time warp so thoroughly as to make it part of their border-entry process.
Northern Argentina looks a whole lot like Arizona, so if you’re wanting to make the journey from the US, you can save some dolores and just head down there. Another similarity to the rural Southwest US: many stops don’t have running water or restrooms.
Possibly the most disturbing thing that I discovered today relates to the bus I’m riding in itself. It turns out there is a spare driver kept in one of the baggage compartments.
The luggage is in a small compartment under the floor of the bus. While we were stopped at the Chilean border this guy just popped right out and I thought ‘Holy hell, there was a guy who got stuck in there and he’s been there the whole time! He’s got to be happy to be alive!’ I peeked in the compartment and saw a pillow and a blanket. I guess this is common with this calibre of bus company.
And even knowing how common it probably is, all I keep thinking is: that compartment is, like, right under the urinal.
I guess my seat isn’t so bad in comparison.
Update: November 26, 2016
That was a horrible bus ride, and I still remember a bat-sized fly that wouldn’t leave me alone, a chicken that sat on the seat next to me for a handful of hours, and a friendly old lady sitting behind me who was thrilled to practice her English — which she had only just started to learn while in her 50s or 60s — with a native speaker.
That last part was actually kind of wonderful.