South America | Argentina | Atlantic Coast and Inland | Buenos Aires – Buenos Aires
20th April Buenos Aires
They say it´s first impressions that count and so I shall always remeber Argetines as being friendly and going out of their way to help. From the minute we walked through customs, side-stepping the disreputables who solicit for taxi customers, we were met with advice that was almost too specific! It would be very easy to be spoon-fed in Buenos Aires, although I wonder if the military policeman and the early morning bus driver would have been quite so helpful if it had been me umming and ahing my pigeon Spanish, rather than my Spanish boyfriend doing all of
So, feeling rather pleased with ourselves for boarding a local bus ($1.35) rather than taking an $11 airport minibus, it was on to the capital something of a white knuckle ride! Unless you like having your nails embedded in the seat in front and a look of terror on your face, steer clear of the front two rows.
Having managed to involve every other passenger on the bus in the discussion on the best way to the coach station, we found it and were again amazed by the warmth of the locals. While investigating prices, a passer-by stopped to offer advice on picking up bargains and then led us to the information desk- a security guard sitting in an electric buggy with a handful of hand-scrawled timetables.
We agreed on a bus to Santa Rosa in the Pampas region. Our return flight leaves from Buenos Aires in 8 weeks, so time to explore the city then. So, after dumping my bag in the station and ordering some slippers from an Italian restaurant (a dish from the menu, not my pigeon Spanish!) I am lying on the grass with the Autumn sun beating down, waiting for our overnight bus to Santa Rosa an 8 hour drive. Only 7 ? jet-lagged
hours to kill before another sleepless night!!!
buses to city $2.10
21st April Santa Rosa
After a 14 hour flight, a 2 hooour bumpy bus ride, 11 hours waiting for a bus, 8 hours on a bus it seemed fair to treat ourselves to a half decent room. Ensuite no less well it had been a while since either of us had seen a shower or even a clean pair of socks!! On finding a vacant room, we collapsed into bed and foolishly awoke at noon to be out and about just in time for the start of siesta. In other words, just in time to see every abierto sign turned around to read
cerrado. Unshaken, the quest for breakfast continued and the holy grail (a loaf of bread and a bottle of water) was eventually found in the only shop to be open through the day.
Santa Rosa, a large town and the capital of the Pampas province is hardly a tourist destination, although the enthusiasm of the staff at the 24 hour tourist information office (located in the bus station) would have you believe otherwise. The town´s finest attraction is the lake and I have been kicking myself for not carrying a tent with me. Camping cheaply next to the water would have been idyllic. An hour-long walk around the lake showed exactly what the locals do on a Saturday afternoon. A fair amount of the town´s
100,000 residents had turned out to fish, row, swim or ride bikes around the lake.
Once the shops re-opened we could stock up on supplies and set off for a dusk picnic in the park, then back to the Residencial Santa Rosa for a much-needed early night. It´s hardly the quietest place in the world though and I almost wished I was back on that comfy sleeper bus!!
Sunday 22 April more of Santa Rosa
11.00 – after checking out of the hotel, our plans of a picnic by the lake and a dip in the outdoor pool were scuppered by heavy rain. the bus to Neuquen leaves here at midnight and it would seem that Santa Rosa closes on a Sunday. Today is the 109th anniversary of the town, but today´s ccelebrations are civil ceremonies in the town hall. If only I had read the local paper when we first arrived I would have found that the fun stuff was happening last night, including
a Tango Spectacular in one of the theatres. The other main form of celebration though, seems to be closing down every business in town! the thought of whiling away the next 13 hours in the bus station doesn´t really appeal. Our plan is to hang around for a few hours then stuff ourselves silly at a traditional Parrilla this evening. Let´s hope they aren´t all closed too or it´ll be bread and water all round again!!
17.00 – I think we have seen much of what the town has to offer now. My first attempt at submitting my diary failed, and now, after siesta time, here I am again. The two museums open in an hour and the aroma of le?a burning in preparation for parrillada is calling us. Next it´s on to the northern-most point in Argentine Patagonia. It´s a whirlwind tour of the Southern cone, but Bolivian prices are calling us!!