The journey South – Jan ’14

“And like it or not, time passes, and that’s why nothing will ever be the same it used to be. Things are ment to change…”

Jaqueline Echeverria

Yet again it was time to move on. I’d completed my mission of Christmas and NYE in Buenos Aires and in the process made some more amazing friends, who I will no doubt meet again during future adventures.

With health and wealth running low it was time to make the mad dash south to Patagonia before the even more insane return back up North.

My initial plan of a straight 19 hour train followed by a 2nd 19 hour train to Bariloche was thwarted due to that 2nd train not actually running now… not that I found that little nugget of vital info on the internet… no, no, no! Why clutter up the internet with useless factual junk like that??? No, luckily 2 friends had made the same journey a few days before and had given me the heads up. Cheers Tom and Diana!

So the plans changed.

First off, a measly 13 hour train to Bahia Blanca.

Thankfully the train was booked for 19:45, so it gave me plenty of time to recover from my send off party (as much as anyone CAN recover from such an event). The unexpected return of Ale and Sole was a beautiful, and almost tearjerking, touch.

It wouldn’t be a Fray journey without almost missing my transport and, yet again, I didn’t disappoint. For any future travellers walking in my footsteps… THEY HIDE THE TRAIN!!!

The huge info board at Constitucion Station that tells of all the trains and their platforms fails to mention the Bahia one! With 10 minutes still to go and still no name popping up I stopped a local cop who very helpfully (unlike you Constitucion!) directed me to a tiny little gate at the end of the station. With 5 minutes to go I located my carriage and stepped into…

… pitch black sweaty hell!!!

Of the 3 transport options I opted for middle class (Primero). Exejutivo was a little too pricey and I know Tourista would have been spinal suicide – 13 hours sat bolt upright on a wooden bench? Gee, let me think!

Trying to locate seat 22 in complete darkness was a real giggle, then convincing the cowboy who was already in it to shift his wide load was yet another chucklefest.

With that minor task complete I could really focus on the job at hand… sweating! OH and how I sweat! The overhead fans were operating at 100% proficiency… slamming 100% of that stifling heat right down on my head.  Every window on the train was open, yet within seconds I was sat in a puddle of salty goodness.  The beautiful lady sat beside me was also struggling too, which I believe helped with my mantra: “Think cool thoughts….. BE the breeze!”

With the moving of the train came an initial breeze, and together with the hangover, the dehydration and the sound of the moving wheels sent me into a deep, peaceful and refreshing sleep… for approximately 12 minutes… after which time the nursery of screaming kids start up crying, complaining and chasing up the aisles… Yaaaaaaaaay!!!

The unorthodox driving style of gently cruising into a station then slamming on the anchors at the last minute guaranteed no rest lasted longer than an hour. This continued until around 3am when the heat levels dropped considerably… Oops. Now all those fans and open windows that had previously felt so ineffectual suddenly developed extreme cooling powers!

I now felt a little silly in my t-shirt and shorts.

I had a choice to make.

I’d been using my only warm item of clothing, a wooly jumper, as a makeshift pillow in a vain attempt to ward off the potentially career ending whiplash everyone else seemed to be so joylessly enduring.

I gave it a go.

I made up my mind.

The cold, as shocking and bone chilling as it was… I can deal with. Having a weeblehead for the rest of my life? No thanks

I’ve been cold before, I’ll be cold again (presumably as soon as I step off the train in the mountains tomorrow… DOH!!!)

Watching the sky outside plastered with a gazillion stars, with a few shooting ones too, eased the pain and I managed to doze fitfully for the next 2 hours until the sunrise scorched my retinas.

Bahia Blanca… not much to say really. Small town, a couple of decent buildings, a few grim bits. Only real plus side… 100’s of stunning ladies, but yet again, no smiles or warmth from any of them. Argentinian women = no, no, no!

So after a good wander round with no cash (yet another dumbass move from Fray) I headed to the train station. A quick journey to the bathroom confirmed the bleeding obvious, I was a little dehydrated… But the ferocity of the orangy-red pee-stream was a little shocking. Equally shocking was the lack of toilet seats or locks on doors… both riotously obscene luxuries, yet flushing paper (provided) down the loo?!? What a paradox you are Argentina!

So it gets to 19:30, 2hrs 15mins to go. I really start to think I’m losing my mind as I begin to hear crazy voices and accents! I’m sat with my head in my hands, enjoying the company of my good friend Sleep Deprivation, when the old couple next to me, who were previously only conversing in Spanish have now suddenly developed an Northern English accent, discussing such obscure topics of ‘The latest invasion of salad dressing’ and a discussion at length about their new car!

Mom from Futurama ordered a bus ticket at a booth (including evil laugh).

The Yorkshire accent seems a popular choice around here. A recent conversation about ‘puppies and fires’ sounding particularly distressing.

They’re all pretty sneaky too! They wait for me to look up before switching back to ‘Spanish’, if that’s what it really is!

I looked down again and heard the following:

“Hey Cheshire, do you like Liz?”

“Of course I like Liz!”

(female voice)”She’s a reet cow is ees girlfriend”

(Ozzy voice) “Ya never fackin larff mate”

I fear on some level that I should be worried (and not just for the implications involved with Argentina taking over the impressionist scene).

Have I stumbled upon a secret training ground? A Yorkshire cloning facility? Is this leading up to an invasion of The Falklands where there’ll be a very civilized uprising by the disproportionately high number of Yorkshire speaking folk? Is the Venezuelan shirt I’m wearing acting as a shield and potentially saving my life?

NOW I am worried! It’s a good job I have a legendary grasp of “Si, claro”

If you don’t hear from me again (or if you do but I’ve developed a delightful new Yorkshire accent and propensity for discussing salad dressing)….. Keep an eye on The Falklands!

You read it here first!

(if they make a movie about it one day, please ask Bill Murray if he’s free)

6 thoughts on “The journey South – Jan ’14”

  1. Have you not met a travel publisher yet, or actually a dim producer. Your journey be so good on the big screen. Xx

  2. Great writing today – I feel like i have a vivid picture of your journey so far.

    Yes, Kingpin version Bill Murray complete with epic comb-over would be perfect casting – i have faith he could generate the necessary quantities of flopsweat required to nail the part of Fray.

    I can feel suspense building in the background narrative: will your health hold out long enough to get you to your intended destination Up North? Fingers crossed it does; I don’t fancy reading the expletive-ridden piece that’d be penned if you end up needing to lie down in the aisle and the subsequent trampling for hours on end by children that would ensue…


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