After my first visit about 6 weeks ago, Rio Gallegos had made it onto the list of places that I didn't want to spend time in again. I should really dispense with this list ASAP because, like with eating calafate berries in El Calafate or rubbing the toe of the Ona Indian on the monument to Magellan in Punta Arenas, once a place ends up on the list I invariably end up visiting it again. In the case of Rio Gallegos, it was entirely my own fault.
I have a routine when flying in which, soon after take-off, I change my clock-containing gadgets such that they are all set to the destination time. Despite the travelling I've done over the last couple of years, I unfortunately haven't internalised that same routine for land-based border crossings. Thus it was that the one hour time difference between Chile and Argentina was not reflected on my watch when I arrived in Rio Gallegos, and my overnight bus to Puerto Madryn departed just over an hour before I started asking questions as to its whereabouts.
The one positive that came out of this was that my opinion of Rio Gallegos, in particular of
its inhabitants, improved significantly. From the driver at the bus station who pointed out my error and suggested a course of action, to the sales people at the bus company who listened sympathetically to my tale of stupidity then gave me a 20% discount off a ticket for the following day, to the owner of the hotel I'd stayed in last time who regretted that she had no beds but then phoned round some other places until she'd found a vacancy, I experienced nothing but kindness. I also was forced to explore the town a little further as I had nothing else to do in this layover, finding a locomotive graveyard, a pleasant little square awash with yellow leaves, and some pan-pipe buskers playing "The Power of Love" (Jennifer Rush version).
Rio Gallegos->Puerto Madryn was scheduled to be an 18 hour overnight bus journey - my first overnighter in Argentina - which gave me the seating choices of cama (literally "bed") or semi-cama. Given the exceptional quality of the buses here, either option would probably have enabled some sleep but I went for cama as it was only 20% more (and was actually about the same price, once my
20% moron discount for missing my previous bus had been factored in). For my money I was furnished with a plush seat that reminded me of American Airlines first class c.1998, which could recline sufficiently as to be fairly close to horizontal. The DVD entertainment again included "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry" (that's twice in five bus journeys - que?) but the subsequent '80s video medley soon made me forget that. I was most impressed by dinner, a DIY ham and cheese sandwich followed by a milanesa with the option of a glass of wine.
The bus rolled on through the night, my time being split between dozing, listening to my MP3 player, and peering out of the window at the anonymous towns and indistinct landscapes that we passed through. At our nighttime stops there were occasional passenger changes, accompanied by muted whispers and shuffling feet. Dawn came brightly, bringing with it some crackers, peach jam, and an alfajor (sweet cake-like cookie thing popular here). More northward trundling ensued, and my stomach was just starting to enquire about the possibility of lunch when we reached my destination - Puerto Madryn.
Tot: 0.029s; Tpl: 0.017s; cc: 9; qc: 23; dbt: 0.0051s; 1; m:saturn w:www (126.96.36.199); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.2mb