“The edge, there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.”
Hunter S. Thompson – RIP you legend… my inspiration.
After the events of the last 48+ hours I was ready to settle down for a delightfully uneventful 13 hour bus ride from Bahia Blanca to Bariloche. I’d deliberately chosen my seat on the bus… 52, lucky for some. Located right at the back next to the window I was guaranteed to be away from all TV screens, flatulence overflow from toilet users (my bladder/sphincter control is still the stuff of legends) and family units.
I needed time (and sleep) to ease my damaged mind. Sensory overload/sleep underload had left me burnt to a jibbering little stump… not sure if that came across in the last chapter.
The bus came on time… they accepted my ticket with no problems… I boarded the bus… my seat was empty……….. YAAAAAAAAAY!!!!!!
I eased myself into my semi-cama, leather, reclining seat… (uuuuuiiiiiiiiiiii!!!!) flipped back the seat to maximum lazyboy setting, rested my trusty Venezuela cap over my eyes and flaked out IMMEDIATELY! Gone! Out for the count! Heeeeeee’s outta there!!!
And I woke up in Bariloche… end of story.
Really??? Oh what a wondrous change that would be.
NO…… NO……. NO FRAY!!!
Horrendous dreams, of which I still vividly remember, hounded my sleep. Being chased around in a Frank Miller-esque land, being shot at, getting in random fights… all of which could be fun to the rested mind, yet I shot bolt upright (sending my cap flying) into the dark of night in a cold sweat. More sweaty messy Fray, yet at least I’d managed to sleep over an hour. A check of the clock revealed 1hr37mins… New world record!!!
The dreams had unnerved me, but the slow look to my left set the cold sweats into hyperdrive!!!
Even in the dark of the bus (I had managed to avoid the TV screens and farty folk) lay not one… but two children…….. Let me repeat that…. 2 FREAKIN KIDS!!!!!! A girl of approximately 5 years old cuddled up on top of another girl aged approximately 16 years.
The little one was awake, looking at me, and her swinging leg was dangling dangerously close to mine.
No….. she wouldn’t have.
So I console myself with the fact she’s not crying, for if she was there would have been nowhere to hide on that bus… no one would have escaped my wrath, my fury, my unquenchable rage!
So with this soothing thought I lay back down, replace the cap and begin to drift again… when it happens.
She kicks me!!! SHE F####N’ KICKS ME!!! I knew it! The dreams didn’t wake me first time… A swift boot to the leg roused me from my torment! Not for one nanosecond do I believe this was an act of compassion! I look again… and again see that blank stare!
I’ve obviously gnashed a bit too loud as the older girl shifts, awake and aware of all previous happenings and repositions the violent pipsqueak so her legs are further away.
The grinding of teeth is obviously now drowning out the sound of the universe, as a woman (whom I later identify as her mother) leans over and strokes her head… HER HEAD!!! Her head didn’t just receive an unprovoked sandalled dropkick! My leg did!!! TWICE!!!
The red mist eventually subsides, but not before a couple more unanswered cheeky digs!
I was literally gripping the seat, white knuckles, waiting for one more cheap shot. I’d endured the previous assaults with patience, dignity and heroic willpower… NO MAS!
“I want you to hit me as hard as you can!”
THIS IS SPAAARRRRTTTTTAAAA!!!
The Gods, sensing they had twisted and torn my sanity further than acceptable health and safety limits, gracefully stepped in before the blow struck. The bus pulled up as some unknown dilapidated station out in the desert and off they popped… probably sharpening their sandals waiting for the next weary traveller to pass through and torment!
It took a while before I settled down again… around 3 minutes, before I was curled up across both seats and snoring like a bear with a bear stuck up his nostrils. Sleep from then came in roughly 2 hour periods, but with little to see outside except the blinding glare of the stars, there was little stimulus to keep me awake long and so slowly… so very, very slowly, I started to piece myself together and regain my strength.
A free breakfast (sweet!) was delivered to my seat, and although not the fresh fruit/egg and bacon/arepa that I would have liked… the jam and crackers appeased my grumbling stomach.
Still 2 hours out and the landscape was slowly beginning to change. The drab, endless tumbleweed was being replaced by mounds, then hills, and finally I spotted my first mountain!
From then on the wow factor increased exponentially!
*Note to future travellers! Don’t pick seat 52! It’s on the right of the bus, and most of the action takes place on the left. These Argentinians didn’t appreciate a semi-lucid Brit clambering over them to snap that magical photo moment.
Swiss style houses, epic lakes and mountains to wow the heart all whizzed past and incited a joygasm I’d not felt for a good while… not since hitting the Alps a few years back.
Pulling into Bariloche was a joyous experience… so clean, so orderly, so pretty!
I swift walk into town dazzled my senses some more… Definitely an old-school European vibe!
Love at first sight! (I’m such a floozy!)
Everything was perfect… life was good… I headed to my bus stop with a smile on my face and a song in my heart… And within 5 minutes I was ready to DESTROY SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL!!!
The bus system had been explained to me weeks previous, yet I’d foolishly just nodded (and probably thrown in a cheeky “si, claro”). Each city in Argentina has it’s own bus card. Some cities accept cash onboard, others do not. Bariloche does not. The driver politely refreshed my memory and pointed me to a queue that belonged in communist Russia!!! Round and round it snaked…… with the sole purpose of putting a couple of quid on your bus ticket.
1 hour and 35 minutes I queued for, with my reward being £3.70 on my freakin card!!! Hats off to the Argies though… no mumble, no groaning, stoic until the end! Even when they got to the front of the queue and have to deal with an imbecile who scratches his head quizzically in between each key press!!!
I pride myself on my patience…… Maybe I was just having a bad day!
Two special things happened on that (eventual) bus ride to the hostel. I met an incredibly friendly and helpful local who directed me fully in the wheres, whens and hows of Bariloche buses.
Second was that this was all conducted in Spanish, WHICH I UNDERSTOOD, and we even laughed at each others jokes! And not like my previous attempts at blind guessing when was appropriate to smile, when to laugh, and when to give the classic, timeless eyeroll!
We were actually communicating!!! Like grown ups!!! IN SPANISH!!!
I pulled into my hostel, the awesome Camping Los Coihues, with all new superpowers!
I am Bilingual Man!!!
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