Argentina Bus Adventures.
To the innocent eye, this lovely green coach (pictured) might look somewhat like a luxury set of wheels, somewhere along the way from Buenos Aires to Bariloche, Patagonia.
Truth be told, this is partially correct. It’s indeed, ‘somewhere along the way’ between the east and west coasts of Argentina. In the middle the Patagonian Desert, with not much more than red dirt, green shrub and soaring outside temperatures surrounding. Neither a functioning gear stick.
Earlier this week my boyfriend and I took what was supposed to be a 24-hour bus ride from Buenos Aires to Bariloche. From the colourful sights of the city to the gateway of the mountains. We did our research into bus travel in Argentina, and given the size of the country, it’s often the preferred method of travel even for the locals. So there is merit to our madness. Plus, inclusive of nights’ accommodation when travelling on a budget – winning! And so, we paid a good sum of money to ride ‘semi-cama’ style (the low-end of luxury bus travel in this beautiful country), only to endure what was actually a 32-hour commute. The equivalent of a flight from Melbourne to Western Europe and back to Asia and some.
As we arrived at the Retiro bus station (in BA), the recommended hour early before our scheduled bus due to the sheer chaos of this place (forget informative displays, all you need to know is that your bus (might) arrive somewhere between platforms 10 and 25), it finally pulled in almost 2 hours late, under the name of another provider.
The journey was comfortable nonetheless, with not exactly all the amenities that were promised (older bus), but that’s fine and part of the adventure whilst travelling. (Turning up and hoping for the best more often than not). And then, somewhere along the way, about 21 hours into our journey at 12pm the following day and 1.5 hours past the near biggest town – Neuquén, the gear stick broke. Like, literally detached. So much so that you could pass it amongst the passengers. And there we were, stranded. In the middle of freakin’ nowhere.
And so, instead of calling for a replacement bus, it seemed a standby mechanic (without the required parts) ranked high priority. He came and went, back to where he had come from and returned some hours later with a new gear shift.
We sat on the bus, and waited, and waited some more as the mechanic navigated the issue at hand. The initial suggested 1-hour delay ticked over and over, until 5.5 hours later of feeling the outside temperature soar to 39 deg. C, we were once again (at last) en route to our end destination. Pulling into Bariloche, Patagonia almost 12 hours after the scheduled arrival time.
All I can say is ‘when in Argentina’. What a ride!