Tuesday, August 05, 2008
After enjoying a great day at the park I decided I should head home, have some dinner, write a quick blog and go to bed.
I took the 93 bus to the park and was instructed by my Colombian friend, who knows the bus system rather well, to take the 93 back home.
Simple enough I thought, it was about a 30 minute bus ride to the Recoleta Park from my place in Palermo, after the bus ride back up north I should be home by 7:30.
The bus starts heading south. It's cool I know where I am. Then we head further south, I'm still cool as I know exactly where I am and I'm confident the bus is going to eventually turn around and head north taking me to my Palermo stop.
Then we keep heading south and we hop on the freeway. At this point I start to realize I'm kinda screwed, but I try convincing myself I know where I am.
Twenty more minutes pass.
I look around and see that I'm in a pretty shitty area. I'm probably in Boca I think to myself. Boca is the barrio famous for being home to the Boca Juniors, but it's also not a place you want to be after dark if you don't know the area. If you meet anybody who was robbed in Buenos Aires, there's a good chance it happened in Boca.
I stay on the bus figuring it's my best bet, despite the fact that the bus driver is mimicking the Universal Studios backlot tour as we rode over a rickety bridge and entered some street that entirely blocked off.
However instead of driving through a soundstage with King Kong and crashing helicopters we entered the end of the line.
It was me (obviously lost), the bus driver (ready to take his break or end his shift) and some knucklehead who refused to get off the bus.
Fortunately the bus driver was nice and he told me that if I wait here I could take another bus back to my block, but it would be a 1-hour ride. He also told me that we were south of Boca, which is as far away from Palermo as you can be without leaving Buenos Aires.
Finally after 2 and a half hours of taking the 93 to infinity I arrived home.
Granted I took the 93 heading the wrong way and the whole thing was my fault, but here's a list of things I told myself in an effort to convince myself otherwise.
There are no clearly printed bus routes in Buenos Aires. To figure out where you are going you have to use the "Guia T," the bus guidebook. However instead of having pages of maps showing each bus' route it is perhaps the most confusing book ever created.
I could explain to you how it works but it would take about 1,000 words. It fucking sucks.
Sometimes bus stops are nothing more than a electric pole with a 6-inch number stuck to the top of the pole.
The absolute worst thing about the buses is that you can only pay for your ride in coins. This wouldn't be an issue if there weren't a coin shortage in Buenos Aires. Seriously coins in this city are like gold. Many vendors will not give you change because they either don't have any or because they don't want to part with it.
You can't even go to the bank and ask to convert a 10 peso bill into coins.
There is no way to buy a bus pass. There are no transfer tickets. The only way you can board a bus is with coins. Yesterday I used the last of my coins, which I had been hoarding. Now I have to go buy something from the corner store just to get change. Because of this I will probably buy more Tic-Tacs during my 5 months here than I will buy in the rest of my life.
Waiting for the bus anywhere in the world sucks. It's a general rule of life that whatever bus you don't need will come to the stop first. Yesterday while waiting for the 93, at a stop that picks up the 93 and 111, the 111 came three times before the 93. Then when the 93 eventually came there were two 93 right on top of each other.
At least it's better than Canada.