Friday, 5 January 2007

Argentina Journeys - Puerto Iguazu to Buenos Aires

My first long bus journey in Argentina was a revelation, especially after seeing some of the local buses, and after having travelled through much of Brazil and Bolivia by bus. The first shock is the size – double deckers! With only 3 seats across! Despite booking last minute tickets, we bagged the pair of seats at the front upstairs. Fantastic. Settle down, spread out, enjoy the view with your feet up, watch a couple of dodgy films, ah, very civilised. As well as the films, they provide coffee, water, sweets, blankets and a pillow. At the pit-stop, there was a three-course meal and ‘champagne’ laid on, all ready immediately we sat down.

The best surprise was yet to come though. A tray of glasses with ice and a bottle of ‘whisky’ appeared in front of my face. A nice nightcap to help you nod off to sleep, they know how to treat their passengers these people. They even had a dog coming on board to pet for those who needed to de-stress. Admittedly, petting a sniffer dog isn’t the best idea. A friend of mine did it once at an Italian airport and before he knew it, he was being frogmarched away for a strip-search and interrogation. He was just being friendly and thought that the dog was doing the same as it sniffed him. Our dog seemed friendly, unlike the moody police who followed close behind him, checking documents. An old woman in the seat behind us awoke with a start when the dog put his nose next to hers and hoovered around her face. She only complained about it for a few hours.

I wasn’t complaining at all. I’d never been treated so well. There were no pot-holes for the whole journey to bounce you awake every few minutes, and to slow you down for hours. We were about to arrive an hour and a half early! This couldn’t possibly be happening. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I’d never had an early arrival in South America before. We’d only just finished the breakfast that was served up to us. Then we could settle back and watch the cityscape appear right before our eyes.

Brazil and Argentina are very competitive, both vying to be the number one nation of their continent. They compete at football, at financial growth, beef, anything short of war. But as far as the buses go, Brazil – your boys took a hell of a beating! Travelling around Argentina was going to be a doddle wasn’t it?

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