2010 SOUTH AMERICA TRIP REPORT
Back at the bus station, I glanced at the departure board to see when the next bus to Buenos Aires was leaving. A bus featuring “first class” (fully lie-flat) seats was leaving in five minutes, operated by Rio Uruguay. No other first class busses would be departing that day from Puerto Iguazu and the next two busses leaving only featured “semi-cama” (think premium economy) seats. Furthermore, the cost difference between “first class” and “economy” was minimal—about $15. I rushed to the ticket window, handed the lady my passport and credit card, and asked her if I could purchase a ticket. She nodded and I told her I would be right back.
I still had my bag sitting in the hostel and ran out of the bus station and down the street to get it. I swooped in, grabbed my bag, and began running back to the station. The downhill run from the station was no problem, but I felt like a cheetah on the uphill run back. Suddenly I stopped dead in my tacks. I just couldn’t run another step. I started walking. The time was now 2:04p, four minutes after scheduled departure. My second wind kicked in and I sprinted the remaining distance, arriving by 2:06p. The woman from the ticket desk was standing outside the bus with my passport and credit card and a look of relief spread across her face when I ran up, huffing for breath. I signed the receipt (about U$S75 for the trip) and boarded the bus.
A steward directed me upstairs and I found my seat near the back. I settled into the plush, black leather seats and stored my bag on the open seat to my left. Turns out I rushed for nothing, because the bus didn’t pull out for another five minutes. Once we got going, I drew the window curtains shut, reclined my seat, and breathed a sigh of relief: nothing to do but relax for the next 15 hours.
45 minutes into the journey, we stopped at security checkpoint and a small envoy of soldiers boarded the bus to check passports (good thing this didn’t’ happen in Brazil!). Throughout the afternoon and evening we made eight stops to pick up and drop off passengers. By 8pm, the bus had filled up.
Looking out from the bus window at one of our stops.
A few snacks were offered, and pirated movies blared out just like on the outbound. At 8:30 dinner was served. Because this was a first class bus I was expecting a decent meal, especially after a stewardess made her way through the cabin placing a placemat and silverware at each table, but I was disappointed. A pasta and chicken entrée was served with an assortment of processed sides. The pasta and chicken lacked flavor, but having not eaten since morning, I ate most of it. Unlike on Crucero del Norte, no champagne was offered after dinner.
Good book. Bad candy.
The lights were dimmed after the meals were cleared away and after finishing Freakanomics (high recommended!) I fell asleep and slept soundly for the next seven hours. Curtains between each seat in the 2-2 layout provided a modicum of privacy.
At 6am, the lights were turned back on and a light breakfast was served. A cold pastry, more pre-packaged snacks, and cup of tea wasn’t much, but would hold me over until lunch. We pulled up into the Retiro in central Buenos Aires around 7am. Well rested, I was ready to explore the city.