To Argentina we go!
I treated the packing for Mendoza as a dry run for my Patagonia trip. When I travel south, I will do a lot of walking on uneven ground to reach my lodgings, so I want to avoid rolling suitcases. Instead, I hope to fit everything I need for the week inside a ginormous backpack and small shoulder-bag. Based on what I could fit in the backpack for Mendoza, I think this will also work for Patagonia.
Before I left, I had a video chat with some of my Californian family. One highlight: my favorite sister EP was telling me about how she felt when reading my blogs, and said, “What’s the difference between jealousy and envy? Well, I have the one that’s loving. And not murderous.” It made me giggle.
After packing up and dealing with a few last-minute work things, I headed to M.’s hostel, to meet her and R. before our 9:30pm bus departure. We stocked up on snacks and fixed a quick pasta dinner, before galloping to the terminal.
On the way to the bus terminal, we passed a Coca-Cola Christmas truck parade, complete with glittering lights, bubbles, and dancing polar bears. M. says they’re an annual occurrence in Switzerland, and was very excited to see them. I had never heard of them!
We arrived at the terminal and showed our passports, in order to get our official international bus tickets. As we waited, we chatted with a nearby man, who turned out to be the driver of our bus that night. This rather reassured us that our bus wouldn’t leave without us.
The bus was a double-decker with wide swathes of windows. Our seats were semi-cama, so they had a padded, diagonal leg rest and a deeply reclining seatback; together, these allowed one to arrange oneself in a straight line at roughly a 45º angle from the floor. As far as buses go, it was rather comfortable. In particular, the semi-cama leg rest was a blessing: when I have to sit in an airplane-style seat for any longer than an hour, my knees creak with aggressive stabbing pains, but with the semi-cama leg rest, I survived the whole bus ride with no pain. I would like to propose that all airplanes adopt these.
To pass time on the bus, M., R., and I compared our passports. The German passport was thick and official, like a little book. The Swiss passport was a thing of beauty: cheerful brightly-colored pages, with varied Swiss-related artwork on the corners of every page. Now I’d like to attain Swiss citizenship just to get a Swiss passport of my very own.
We paused at the terminal in Viña del Mar to collect more passengers. The conductor fed us boxed sandwiches and cups of soda, relayed some information about the trip, and then slapped off all the lights, to allow us to sleep. Then, we continued driving through the darkness, heading into the Andes Mountains.