Posts Tagged 'bus travel'

back on the bus in Argentina

From the Southernmost City in the World to the Coolest City on the Continent

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the long ride to El Calafate

El Calafate

After departing El Bolsón we headed south to El Calafate, one of the Patagonian region’s most popular tourist destinations.  Conveniently located between El Chaltén and Torres del Paine National Park in neighboring Chile, and just 80km from Los Glaciares National Park, El Calafate is touristy and growing fast.  It’s a long ride from El Bolsón, nearly 28 hours by bus. About 12 hours into the trip, around midnight, we found ourselves stalled in a long line of traffic and soon found out that the Argentinian petroleum workers were protesting and the protests had shut down the highway.  They lasted throughout the night until the next morning when the traffic eventually started moving again.  We finally arrived in El Calafate the following evening around 11pm, after nearly 35 hours on the bus!

no gracias

iglesia gracias

Travelers to Honduras typically visit two key attractions, the Maya ruins at Copán and the Bay Islands.  After departing Copán we decided to detour a few hours south to the small town of Gracias before heading north to the Caribbean coast and Bay Islands.  The trip required a few transfers between local buses and proved to be an interesting experience.  Our bus mates included a guy with blood all over his shirt, tobacco chewing and spitting on the floor guy, several very stinky guys, and one very wild looking man carrying a machete (we’re still not sure if he had any relation to the bloody shirt guy).  Needless to say we were relieved when the bus finally arrived in the empty dirt parking lot that was the Gracias bus terminal.

We quickly discovered that Gracias is nothing more than a dusty little town with a few churches and even fewer tourists, and we quickly ran out of things to see and do.  There are also no ATM machines in the town, which left us in a bit of a predicament given that, beyond bus fare back out of Gracias, we were just about out of cash.  Not to worry, we ate fried chicken and pork skewers on the street corner with the rest of Gracias’ residents and retired back to our room at one of the town’s reliable budget establishments, or so we thought.  After arranging the bed like an island in the middle of the room and spending the next several hours flipping the lights on and off chasing cockroaches we were wishing we were on a real island out in the middle of the Caribbean. 

And so we departed Gracias on the first 5 a.m. bus, likely never to return.  I should also mention that apparently, in Honduras, bus windows double as trash cans and the piles of trash lining the streets is evidence of this fact.  Soda bottles, food wrappers, even used and recollected bus tickets are thrown from the bus as it speeds along.  But the kicker came when one woman got out of her seat, walked to the back of the bus and, in plain view of Carlos and I, proceeded to pee all over herself and the floor before returning to her seat as if nothing had happened.  As it turns out, people pretty much pee just about everywhere here, though not usually on buses.  And we’ve seen a few ‘please do not urinate here’ signs along the highway.     

Finally we arrived in San Pedro Sula, transferred to first class, and had a pleasant, incident free ride the remainder of the way to La Ceiba.  And once we were able to relax and enjoy it, we found that the countryside and farmlands of northern Honduras are actually quite beautiful.  As a result of the hot, tropical climate everything is a rich, vibrant shade of green and fruit trees including palms, bananas, and avocados are plentiful.  Arriving in La Ceiba, too late in the day to catch the ferry to Utila, and with very little energy or patience remaining we splurged for a decent hotel room, ordered a pizza and spent the night watching re-runs of The Office and 30 Rock on cable.