Thursday, December 18, 2008

How not to get from Buenos Aires to Montevideo

Most people write home about their holiday experiences in a glossed over idealistic haze. I think I do the opposite. I would far rather write home about the experiences that at the time may not have been all together pleasant, but were in some way unexpected. That being said, I find pleasant unexpected experiences equally interesting. I just wanted to say that and at the same time assure everyone that I am having a great time, despite the strange aesthetic of my blog posts. So here is the story of how not to travel from Buenos Aires to Florianopolis. There are a few do's thrown in there amoung the don'ts though.

1) DON'T drink until sunrise in Buenos Aires the moring before you have to leave and then get convinced that going out for beer and bacon is a good idea when you have to leave the hostel in about 3 hours.
2) DON'T arrive at the bus station 1 hour before the bus you want to catch into another country and expect there to still be seats, there won't be, there will only be free seats in 3 days time. That will be too much of a wait for you.
3) DON'T decide that going anywhere north will be OK, and book tickets to Montevideo (which must be a cool place, its the capital of a Uruguay right, it'll be fun). The fact that you will have to kill 12 hours before the bus comes, with your stuff locked in a bus station locker and about enough money to buy 2 hotdogs (SUPER PANCHOS) should put you off this plan, but it won't. Once in tthis position there are a few do's though.
4) DO go to the Cemeteria del la Recoletta. Visit Evita's grave (It's not as big as you think it would be). Realise that these graves (Mausoleums really) are bigger than most apartments in New York. After a while start imagining the necropolis as full of zombies, maybe get a bit too involved in the fantasy. The night before is starting to kick in on your consciousness. Maybe it is time to leave.
5) DO find a park bench, first check that there are enough people around to protect you from pick pockets, see a police cop and decide that its safe enought o fall asleep.
6) DO fall asleep and kill 3 hours in a beautiful argentinian breeze.
7) DON'T wake up really hungry, it's super pancho time. Start your way back to the station.
8) DO catch the bus to Montevideo. DO Notice the moon. The moon seems unusually low for this time of the night. Its altitude leaves it with a strong red hue as the light refracts through the thick atmosphere. Looking out the bus window, the rising red gibbous orb is the sole feature on the flat plains of Argentina. There is a palpable feeling of calm over landscape, a quiet reflectiveness comming from my mind and washing over everything you see. The calm seems at odds with what should be a vaguely menacing red glow from the moon. Instead the red bleeds into the mind's pallette, finding its place amoung the other sensations, never jarring, simply complementing.
9) DON'T think that you are lucky to be sitting next to a pretty Argentinian girl who speaks english and is offering to let you stay at her flat in Uruguay. Argentinian women are tricky and are not to be trusted. Espcecially ones that are flexible looking yoga teachers.
10) DO fall asleep for as long as possible, wake up at the border post.
11) DON'T get pissed off that the border police are ruffling through your stuff and crumpling your newly cleaned and folded clothes. They work for minimum wage and will have not compunction about making you life hell.
12) DON'T go to Montevideo, this is pretty overriding, especially don't have to wait another 12 hours there. again with your stuff locked in a bus station locker and having my Uruguan Pesos.
13) DON'T get confused between US Dollar prices and Uruguan Peso prices, The locals will not find it funny when you try pay for 1/20'th of the price for a beer.
14) DO Go to the Gaucho museum, Gauchos (The south american version of a cowboy) are awesome, in my next life I want to be one. They have guns, knives (big knives), whips, bolas, lasoos and cool hats.
15) DON'T got to the national history museum, its really bad and boring, basically it's just a bunch of photo's.
16) DON'T assume that because the cops in Argentina didn't mind you sleeping on park benches the cops in Uruguay will be fine with it, but try anyway. You will get a good hour or so of sleep before getting poked with a baton and told to move off. Realise that you now look like a dirty homeless gringo, you look like what you are. Buy a beer so you can use the dirty bars dirty bathroom.
17) DO at last get on the 18 hour bus ride to Florianopolis. DO realise again how loud people from the US are. They talk so much. How do the interact around just themselves? Do they just constantly talk at each other trying to be the loudest.
18) DON'T Finish both your books and have the batteries on your Ipod and EEE PC go flat. Start having wierd bus dreams. Bus dreams are bizzarre, they last for hours at a time with you in a semi-lucid state. Your body has become so used to in action and your mind is so starved for stimulus that whole alternative realities are brewed from the dank depths of your psyche. Some of the things you dream will stick with you when you wake up, they will worry you, they will make you ask questions. Are more questions what you really need at this stage of your life?
19) DO Sleep almost all the way to Florianopolis.
20) DON'T expect all the ATM's to work with your credit card. Swear under you breath, walk across the road and try there. Contemplate robbing as stupider looking tourist, realise that tourist may be you. Finally find an ATM that works, breath a sigh of relief.
21) DON'T get off the second urbanbut at the wrong stop.
22) DO get some cigarettes from fellow travellers and give them to the slightly menacing teenagers hasnging around the very vunerable looking tourist herd. Make some friends, cigarettes work wonders everywhere.
23) DO wait another hour for the next bus, which is packed and is really unhappy about having to take you with your backpack. but at least they tell you right stop to get off.
24) DO get to an awesome backpackers, have a beer, go out for a pizza buffet, drink, sleep, go to the beach, eat about 30 prawns for almost nothing, sit out at the hostel bar and look at the view (Below, but less overexposed) while writing this.

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