Bjorn and I decided to visit Libertador San Martin in the Entre Rios province for the weekend. For those not in the know, Libertador San Martin is a small town that is home to a Seventh-Day Adventist university and hospital; consequently, the entire town is an Adventist bubble. Some of our friends, the Bs, originally from Argentina but now living in Thailand, were back in Argentina for vacation. They were dedicating their son, L, in a special ceremony on Saturday over there. The temptation was great to see friends from Thailand in Argentina (plus L is a very cute boy), and we had been planning on visiting that area sometime, so how could we not go?
Bjorn had told me we needed to take something called the Flecha Bus to get there and that it’s about a 6-hour trip. We decided we would wake up early on Friday, leave our apartment by 9 a.m. and be in Libertador by around 3 p.m., long before sundown. We went to bed fairly early for us (11 p.m.) and promised ourselves that we would wake up extra early to pack.
Friday dawned bright and early. We did not.
We woke up at 10 a.m. We looked online and fortunately, there was a bus leaving at 2:20 p.m. However, the travel time was closer to 8 hours, which meant we would get there past 10 p.m. We had planned on staying with some of Bjorn’s family friends, an elderly couple, but that arrival time we felt would be too late and would inconvenience them. We decided to stay at a hotel that night.
We had enough cash on hand to pay for the trip to Entre Rios and a night’s stay in a hotel. If we wanted to come back to Buenos Aires or eat, we would need to withdraw more cash. Unfortunately, the Internet connection stuttered so much, the Xoom wire transaction seemed to take longer than the Paleocene Era. After an era and a half, the money transfer request went through and it was time to pack.
Only I couldn’t pack without knowing what the weather was like in Entre Rios. So I went back to the Internet and after the Eocene Period found the information I needed (which, after some reflection I deemed unnecessary considering the limited amount of clothing I have).
I jumped in the shower only to discover that we had no hot water. I decided to wait it out. But after 10 minutes, I realized the steam would not be pouring forth and I did a polar bear plunge in my own shower.
By that time it was close to 1 p.m. We still had to go pick up the money so Bjorn and I decided to divide and conquer: He would get the cash while I headed to the Retiro train station and found the location of the Flecha Bus terminal.
I reached the Retiro train station and immediately began hyperventilating about what to say. “Cool it, Jammie!” I said to myself. “This is Spanish 101— Donde esta el Flecha bus!”
Walking up to an information window with a confidence I did not feel, I asked my question. I was pleased that it came out rather naturally; I even said “boos” instead of “bus.” My smile quickly fell, though, when he said a torrent of Spanish that may or may not have included “sale” and “cuatro.” I said, “Ohhh,” in what I hoped sounded like an understanding tone and “Muchas gracias” before turning away in a fog of confusion.
Bjorn found me at the Retiro train station around 1:50 p.m. He had bad news: The money hadn’t been available yet. We decided to still go on a wing and a prayer.
I waved in the general direction of the bus terminal, whereupon he rightly turned to the closest official-looking person and asked them where it was. It seemed like we walked unusually far before we saw a long ramp that signified the bus terminal building. We breathed a sigh of relief — but started gulping when we discovered that Flecha Bus was at window 146 (yes, 146).
We walked for 5 minutes but were still at windows in the mid-30s. Finally, we began to run (you read that correctly: I ran. Yes, me.). Gasping and panting, we made it to the window. We ordered and bought our tickets, but the woman at the window realized she had made a mistake with our change. Thus began a series of money exchanges so complicated I literally felt like I was watching a shell game (I still maintain she hoodwinked us by 100 pesos.) Finally done shaking us down, she let us go with our tickets. We ran to the bus departure area, spent an agonizing minute trying to figure out how to get outside and finally rushed up to our bus.
We had barely settled into our seats when the bus pulled away from the terminal. We were on our way!