I take the bus, or the colectivo most days to work as the journey from Rada Tilly to Comodoro is definitely not walkable. A bus ferried me to and from Sixth Form for 2 years. It was fairly important then given how little natural flair I showed whilst learning to drive. In France, I was a regular on the number 11 despite its timetable being entirely incongruent with my working schedule. I can take the bus, but the bondi seems to throw up more challenges.
So my parada. Now tell me, how can I be expected to determine where a bus coming to this bus stop may take me, when it may arrive or how much money might I be expected to pay for a ride?? My host mum walked me to the bus stop the first time I had to take the bus and literally put me on it. If I had just stumbled across this piece of corregated iron, I would not have assumed that the number 10 bus would arrive, take me on a roundabout journey to Comodoro and it would cost me $14.50 pesos. It’s a very simple journey, I get on at this stop and then I get off when the bus terminates. What could go wrong? Well it’s me.
It seems to be that Argentinians have an inherent knowledge of the bus system because I cannot fathom how else they know how to get from A to B. Timetables are not as rigid as at home. I asked someone what sort of time I should expect the bus and they snorted at my foolish question and replied with something to the effect of: the bus comes when it comes. In theory, the bus also follows the same route each day but you will not get your hands on a route map for love nor money. Some days it takes 35 mins, some days 55 mins. Amusingly, each bus stop has a name although that is also undocumented. Here is a picture: to the untrained eye, it may look like a bench, a tree and an ineffectual archway. It is in fact a bus stop. Duh.
My fellow bus passengers and the bus drivers definitely recognise me. It is never more apparent that I am foreign than when the bus jolts to a stop at the terminal and everyone stands up and their heads reach my armpit. Not only am I significantly larger than everyone on the bus, I also seem to be one of the few unable to stay awake. I’m not sure what it is about the leather seats that sends me sleep but I have a 10/10 power nap almost every journey. There isn’t much in the way of in-bus entertainment given that the radio chats in a language I don’t yet understand, so the non-snoozers are the losers in my eyes.
Communication between myself and the bus drivers is limited. A particular favourite encounter was when a driver asked me (he woke me up) if we could go via his house as I was the only passenger left on the bus. I smiled and nodded, obviously. He got back on the bus and offered to drop me straight home. A very kind offer, however, I didn’t know where I live nor how to describe my bus stop besides saying it is close to a very big hill. I handed him a note with my address on it (which I am considering tattooing to my arm) and he dropped me home. We had a nice chat and I laughed politely at several jokes I did not understand. I went to class the next day to be told by one of my students that their uncle was the bus driver with whom I could barely communicate and he had asked her if any of her teachers were tall, took the Rada Tilly bus, slept excessively and spoke amusing Spanish, and she very quickly determined that he was speaking about me. I do pick my moments though, last week I understood that the driver was pissed because I wanted to pay with cash as there was no money on my bus card. I put on my best confused face, mumbled soy inglesa, lo siento, and he let me pass without further questioning.
Road safety is also a hoot here. Road markings don’t exist and wearing your seatbelt is a treated as sign that you don’t trust the driver’s ability behind the wheel, rather than a damn good idea/legal obligation. My younger brother literally does acrobatics in the back seat of the moving car, and the older brother squats behind the hand break so as to leave enough room for his brother’s performance. I sit in the front seat twitching and pretending not to look on edge when my siblings are hanging out of the passenger windows.
On a completely different topic, I think some tyrant at the institute has given me nits because I’m scratching my head like a leper. That means another trip to the pharmacy, and undoubtedly another good story.
Besos and hugs and kisses x