I love reading about a good old fashioned crazy adventure and accidental travel story – stories of a place far, far away
(especially while I’m at work). Stories about the delightful challenges we love to face while immersed in strange cultures. We all do love it right? It’s what keeps me beating a path to the airport: this quirky blue marble of a planet of ours and the promise of future tales. This week I am going to chime in with my own travel story, and this travel story is like most travel stories when you look back: funny NOW, but so frustrating in the midst of it, long before I knew it was going to turn into a travel story.
This travel story takes place in Argentina — Buenos Aires to be exact. It was nearing 5:00 in the afternoon in the lobby of our hostel, and we were sitting and double checking our tickets for a bus ride that would take us from the capital up to Iguazu Falls; it was a bus ride that would take no less than 20 hours and cost us 3 days worth of budget. We asked one of the lovely staff members to call a taxi for us, and she informed us it would be 30-45 minutes. Hmmm, uh-oh; it was Sunday, and we certainly hadn’t factored a 45 minute wait into the schedule. We pondered for a moment, and then decided to walk down the street a bit to see if we could flag one down. Sure enough there was cab parked on the side of the road, but upon further inspection, it was unoccupied. As we turned to walk in the other direction, a door opened and out from the building walked the cab driver towards his car. Perfect! We gestured and pointed up the street to our hostel and he seemed to know what we were trying to communicate. As we stuffed our backpacks and other things into the trunk, I tried to let him know where we were going.
To give you some context, I took Spanish classes for a year before our three-month long journey through South America, and until Argentina, it had served us well enough. But now I have to interrupt my travel story for a moment and tell you that — for those of you who have never been to Argentina — they don’t speak Spanish in Argentina; they speak martian, or some dialect of martian (in Chile, too!). Confidence in my Spanish ability had been growing steadily with each country we traveled to, but for some reason in Argentina, every time I opened my mouth to speak, my words were met with a perplexed, blank stare of confusion. After some back and forth with the cab driver, I felt certain he knew where we wanted to go as he said “que compania?” to which I replied “Rio Uruguay,” the name of the bus company, and the very same awesome bus company that had brought us to Buenos Aires from Mendoza before. So on we drove.