Buses, South America

Since using CATA to traverse the Andes to Santiago I’ve been a strong advocate for using buses to journey through South America. I’m still a novice though having only used them in Peru, Chile and throughout Argentina. They’re comfy, punctual and even though take longer than planes over distances there’s no mammoth check-in or wait for baggage and more often than not you arrive in the centre of the city – unlike flying into London (Southend on Sea).

They’re much cheaper than flying too. Aside from Sky Airlines there’s no real budget option on the continent so some micro/collectivo journeys are much cheaper. I always like to factor in the fact that many route operators offer a semi-cama service which travels overnight to your chosen destination. So essentially you wake up where you need to be having spent the night in a very comfy seat that opens out to 180°. You get your journey, food and accommodation at one rate as opposed to the flight / hotel combo you might have had to fork out for…

So, why am i sitting aboard this bus writing this? Basically, if this was a flight I’d liken this journey to that of a paper plane being flown through a tropical cyclone. We are en route to Esquel from Bariloche and should someone scrape the memory card from this gringo’s LG phone from the valley-strewn wreckage perhaps the information contained therein might help work out what happened on the ill-fated, late-departing 1515 Don Otto service to Esquel.

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Not the only Otto associated with bus travel.

I’m sure the one of the wheels temporarily hung over the side of the cliff face as we hurtled around a bend. We still had 5 sets of wheels spinning on loose tarmac so perhaps my worries are a little unfounded.

Tossed about

We were thrown around too. Rattling around like a tube of Smarties tumbling down an escalator. The TVs flickered and ceased broadcasting the soft-porn Latino music videos from 2012. Perhaps the loud bangs and cracking sounds were that of our breakneck-speed breaking the broadcasting barrier… Perhaps we will catch up with broadcasting from the modern era.. if only the driver would go that little bit faster.

Well, the TVs remained a laguna-blue colour. The driver was doing his best to push this rickety old vehicle into a new epoch but for now, no Latina titty tunes.

otto-speech

Some very amusing typing errors are occurring as my phone struggles to interpret the intentions of my writing finger (examples: broadcasting originally went down as vietkong and finger as ginger – which isn’t too far from the truth).

I suppose there are worse backdrops to bid farewell to this life to than the lushous valleys, turquoise lakes and broken mountain teeth of Patagonia. To be a ginger smear on a beautiful valley-wall canvas in Neuquen.

If this was a plane I’d be there by now. Or enjoying a tasty buttock on an Andean glacier as per Alive!

Or even worse; waiting endlessly for my luggage to never appear on an airport carousel. Please, Mr Driver I love buses. Don’t break my heart… or any part of my body.

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Choripán(s)

What’s not to like? Cramming some sausage between two baps sounds like a good evening. And it is. Believe it or not it’s an(other) informal food prepared outside over fire. The portmanteau of Choripán comes from the Brangelina-isation of Chorizo (herby sausage) and pan (bread).

It’s everywhere you look – it’s often the only thing to choose from.

Am I a fan? 

You know those people who say, “everything in moderation”? Well, that’s not me. Like Oscar Wilde I like to moderate my moderation and don’t apply it to my food. Most things I can eat until I can’t fit any more in – or drink until I’m face down on someone’s… chest. However, choripáns really fill me up (notice how I used the plural there) and I can’t eat more than 2.5.

OK, that sounds like a lot – but these were small ones, spread out over a whole evening with nothing else on offer. They were nice too – not the best (that’s to come) but they certainly did not offend me. And after returning home from these 2.5 choripánitos I hit the hay and woke up with the most hideous bout of explosive diarrhea. I don’t want to paint a vivid picture… but lets just say that I could’ve painted a brown mural big enough to cover a large section of the Great Wall of China.

So what was the best I’ve had?

I don20161119_001854-01‘t want this paragraph to read like the script of a 70’s bawdy sitcom, but I was taken under the bridge of the freeway by Jime’s brother. The length of salchichas on offer was like none that I’d seen. I couldn’t wait to wrap my mouth around a couple and start working away at them. OK, enough of this.

I think it might have been the addition of the chimichurri and salad that helped to break up the overload of chorizo that you normally feel. The setting was good too; the roar of the freeway above, the laughter of families enjoying their Friday night and the ring of the beer cap rollicking on the concrete as the ice cold Andes began to be poured. The smoke from the grill obscured everything but from behind this air-fat emerged what looked like a pair of anacondas waiting to wiggle their way into my mouth.

It was an amazing meal. But it was too big. Even for me! We should’ve ordered one to share, but I didn’t want to lessen the experience by sacrificing half the length. It was busy too – I had a stool to sit on, Jime’s brother had a freezer box and we sat at the table where the bread was being cut. But it didn’t matter.

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2 choripans is 1 portion

So, there it was, underneath the bridge, next to Godoy Cruz Football Stadium. A classic Argentine street food, with a classic Argentine atmosphere. But for me; a little tooooo much – until the next time.