Via bariloche

In Argentina, Sud America, travelling on April 29, 2010 at 2:58 am

So after two and a bit weeks in buenos aires I’ve bitten the bullet, booked the ticket and am on the luxury semi cama seat, reclining it and preparing for the 20hr journey to bariloche. The skies over buenos aires are a sullen leaden grey and it’s been raining non stop for the last couple of days, a constant drizzle intermittently interrupted by a heavy downpour. The weathers changed as well, you can feel the transition into a different season as the temperature drops and the wind picks up, it’s not exactly cold but it’s enough for the porteños to start wearing their winter coats.
As the bus rolls out onto and along the freeway you see both faces of bs as, the darkened flaking walls and the upscale billboards. The skyline is a topographical jumble of semi high rises and lower two/three storey buildings.
I got on the bus at half four in the afternoon and it’s not expected into bariloche until one thirty tomorrow afternoon. But I’m already yawning, was out late last night, head didn’t ht the pillow til five, out enjoying some salsa with claudia and marisol, and then one quick final ride through bs as, a city I’m going to miss, so vibrant late at night, busy and interesting whatever the time of day, but especially at night. I don’t know how the locals manage to combine such late nights with working the 9-5. Nothing gets busy till 2am! But they do somehow.
I’ve only done about half of what I was told to do in bs as but it feels like plenty. Th cities drained me of energy, though the rain days stopped me from heading out they did allow me the chance to catch up on some sleep, to recharge the batteries and return to being the daytime version of me.

The coach is like being on a plane that never lifts off the ground, the seats are wide and long and recline back a long way, there are a couple of tv screens front and back and when the meals are served they flicker into life to show entertainment, right now it’s midachi, some sort of three man variety show, lots of changing of outfits, impersonations of singers and musical acts some I know, michael Jackson, abba, most I don’t. The whole thing is in Spanish so what do you expect. There also seems to be a running theme of some of the acts standing round or performing with their pants around their ankles.
The windows are fogged with condensation and the bright lights are starting to irritate my eyes. I think I was actually asleep before they turned them on. The ache in my coccyx not bothering me for the time being. It’s been a constant with me on these travels, whenever I sit for longer than an hour or two this pain/ache manifests itself. Can’t remember having it back in London either, think maybe it might be from the riding, maybe saddle position, too high maybe, can’t tell, I never got this pain when I was in London riding my bikes back there, it just aches and is literally a pain in the ass. Having to adjust your position every so often to ease the ache, ahhhhh, sweet relief.
Swing a hand across the window to remove the condensation and all there is beyond is darkness, stretching out as far as the eye can see. Occasionally the darkness is interrupted by a lorry being overtaken, tail lights appearing in front then sliding away beside you as the bulk of it makes a fleeting appearance. All to infrequently you see the long thin line of lights which denote some sort of human habitation, town/city whatever. The lights hugging the contours of the earth, but too far away to be made out.
I try to read but my book bores me, feel sleep creeping in from the edges, headphones in to block out the Spanish tv voices I sleep. But it is intermittent. I take out the headphones and turn onto my side. And I sleep. But for how long and how deeply? I wake as we make scheduled stops in the dark. Passengers stumbling down the aisle, more asleep than I am, wrapped up in my blanket.
Sunrise happens quickly, from overwhelming blackness to a glimmer of light to blue sky and a wide expanse of countryside in a few minutes. With the sun up you can see the terrain, all around flat softly undulating shrubland, one two lane highway bisecting it. It feels utterly monotonous, the type of view you’d get in a western as the cowboys ride their horses endlessly across the expanse to escape the law. There are no landmarks or features which I can discern and I turn my head from side to side looking for the rising majesty of the Andes. But no luck.
I doze and when I awake we are curling down a road to a lake, mountains to the right of me, water to the left. Trees can now be seen alongside the low slung bushes, there is a bit more blue in the sky and in the water and the clouds remind me of New Zealand.
In think I’m getting a look at the seven lakes which are one of the guidebook things to do and see either by driving or riding round them. The ascents and descents don’t look too bad as the bus rolls along them and I’m going to ask at the hostel for maps and opinions on doing it. After the short city miles of buenos aires I feel the need to stretch the legs a bit…
A couple of kilometres outside of bariloche we stop at an gendarmeria checkpoint, a brown dog a Labrador I think comes up the stairs and then down the aisle as it’s handler a soldier in green army fatigues and a 9mm inside it’s holster on his waist. A man with long hair, stubble and a guitar in a soft case gets off the bus, he isn’t happy. All the buses along this route are stopped and the sniffer dogs sent on board, the soldiers search through guitar geezers belongings and we wait as other buses are waved through.
I think my boy had like a little bit of weed on him, he seems very casual in his dealings with them and after a soldier has a look and smell of what’s in a white plastic bag, geezer is let back onto the bus.

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