...Or why you should always have one...
29.06.2007 - 01.07.2007 20 °C
I have always thought that you should have a "Plan B" for everything you do in life, from big decisions such as planning your career, to the small ones like planning a night out. You should always be prepared for the event of your first choice not being available, that is, your "plan A".
Said that, when travelling, having a "plan B" is a MUST. Cause timetables, prices, political situations and of course, weather, change. A lot sometimes, so the right thing is to be prepared for any events coming.
I got to the bus station in Asuncion and began the research for a ticket to Bolivia. I must mention at this point that buying a bus ticket in South America, specially in Paraguay, can be an adventure in itself. There are several companies operating the routes, and of course, they are all competing with each other, so there isnt a general timetable. You have to go one by one asking for price and times. The funny thing is that in order to gain your custom, they will lie, badly, when you ask if there is an earlier bus than the one they are offering or stuff like that. Not easy.
The route i was after this time (Asuncion in Paraguay to Santa Cruz in Bolivia) runs through the Thans-Chaco Highway, a not very reliable road that crosses the Chaco, and that gets washed away in the rainy season. Because this is the winter (a.k.a dry season) my plan was to make this 20-30hs bus journey through the Chaco.
But i didnt take into account this year is "el niño" year (that funny meteorological phenomenon that affects countries in the pacific coast every 7 years or so), which i didnt preddict. There have been many floods in february, and in general the weather is crazy. Which means that it has been raining quite a lot in the past week, which is not the usual thing... Great..
I ask the ticket offices, and they all assure me that the road "is now ok". Well, bearing in mind that these ticket guys would sell their mother if that means that you buy them the ticket, somehow i dont think i can trust them. And i am the kind of person that follows feelings. So I sat in the station and thought: Ok, time to bring up Plan B. But this is the funny thing, I DIDNT HAVE A PLAN B.
1. go north through Brazil and then enter bolivia
2. go south, back to argentina and enter bolivia through the northwest.
I decided for option 2 which became my Plan B (at least for now :D )
Asking around, i found out there was a bus leaving in a 2hs for Resistencia my connecting point were i could take the next bus to Salta in the northwest of Argentina. I run like hell and managed to get there on time. The journey to Resistencia was uneventful, if a little bit annoying the border crossing that took longer than expected. And finally arrived in Resistencia and asked when the bus was leaving for Salta. "at 19.00 everyday" she says. Looked at the watch: 18.55, perfect! "Please, can you just give me one minute and i´ll get some cash, but dont let the bus leave without me!" She looks at me like if im talking in Chinese and says: "Well, no rush really, as you have 23hs to get the cash..." Looked at the station clock and it is 19.58. I DIDNT COUNT ON THE TIME CHANGE from Paraguay and Argentina, which is one hour: ***t!
Ok, so Plan B changes again. Asked around again and a guy in one of the ticket offices recommends a house nearby that rents rooms. Ok, that is not too bad. There is no place to exchange money, so i have to go to the cash point , which has the BIGGEST queue i´ve seen in my life: "it is the end of the month, everybody comes to draw money and check if they have been paid" says the guy in front. Great. 1.5hs later (with my 15 backpack still attached to me) I get the money and run back to my "contact". Apparently the number he has it has been changed so he redirect me to another ticket guy . This new one invites me to the office and make the phone call. Line is busy. Ok, well, im happy to wait. He asks if im hungry. Actually, yes. So he orders a couple of burgers that he insists in paying. So we chat and the time is passing. I dont think he is really bothered about having me occupying his office space, i would say he is actually more than happy to have me there. So i ask if he can try again, and still not getting through. It is late and his offer "you are very welcome to stay here in the office with us for the night" it is not appeling at all. I say im gonna try to ring the hotels reccommended in my guided. He offers to ring and in both of them nothing happens. Now, im getting pissed off. Im not too sure what, but there is something going on. I know there is no danger as the station is safe, and the office is open with a huge window, so everybody is around, but still dodgy.
I told him to go and check for a number of a hotel í`ve seen advertised in the station, and when I return, AMAZINGLY, the line is not busy anymore at the house. They have room yes, but only the double which is a little bit more expensive. Of course. But im tired and i only wanna crash, so i accept.
The guy come to pick me up, and funny enough, even though the guy at the ticket office assured me they are good friends, this one didnt know which office he had to come and pick me up. Mmmmmm. Interesting.
I got to the house and it wasnt a palace, trust me, but the lady was nice, the window was secured and the door had a lock from the inside. Enough for me at this point. The bathroom was so minging i decided that a shower could wait.
I survived the noght somehow and left really early (as he wanted to charge me a bit more if I wanted to stay for the day, surprise) and bought my ticket for the evening, and after viviting the town center for the day, eventually catched the bus and 12hs later got to Salta, after nearly 50hs since I decided to go there.
Salta seems a rather nice place, so maybe Plan B should have been Plan A in the first place (only a little bit more organized maybe).. but those are the joys of travelling...
PS. No need to say that from now on I will have a Plan B for every leg of the trip
PS-2. And for those in doubt, I have had a shower at last :D