In the past month we have moved from one side of the continent to the other. Along the way we saw the amazing Technicolor ravines and mountains of Iruya, tasted fine wine against red rock hills in Cafayete, and had our minds blown by the amount of water at Iguazu falls. We LOVED Africa, but sorry, these falls have Victoria falls beat on any day. I don’t know how many miles we have trekked. Most of them on luxury buses, but a few on some tiny ones inching through a hairline mountain pass, and despite most of them being luxury bus travel is almost never luxurious in what it does to you.
In Africa we usually took the bus for about 3-5 hours, the bus was usually hot and crammed, full of people, bags, and of course – how should I say – ‘distinct odors’. But all this made for an enjoyable active ride. You feel like you are part of something, like everyone is just trying to get to the next place, you have an alliance with the guy next to you who is carrying 20kg of cabbage, you are part of the team which keeps the baby asleep, you don’t complain when you have only 36% of your butt cheeks actually on a seat just because it’s better than the 25 people standing (note according to the board there should only be 8 people standing), and you support the economy by buying the eggs and raw food through the window.
In South America the bus ride is passive, we don’t talk with anyone else on the bus, we recline to a full 130 degrees, we get handed meals similar to airplane food, a movie plays on in the background and nothing can be heard from outside the bus. The only challenge is surviving the Arctic-correction-Antarctic temperatures of the bus at night. The ride takes us through the incredible mountains, small towns and even jungles but we don’t really get to interact with them. This does make the hours fly by though, we have taken several 18+ hour bus rides, plus a few in the range of 6 hours or so which feel like a breeze. When we get off the bus we find that we are exhausted even though there is no reason for it. Honestly I wish I had gotten to travel in South America in the ‘old days’ when the buses were crammed, hot and had chickens being passed through the windows. At least we would feel like we are doing something, now we are just watching the picture show out the window. But as these buses are so easy to catch and so easy to ride on we have covered a TON of distance and finally it took it’s toll in Uruguay.
We made it to Uruguay a few days ago, coming from Iguazu. Although online we were warned about it’s difficulty we breezed through the border with about as much difficulty as going to France from Germany nowadays. We arrived in Montevideo after 26 hours of travel with well no difficulties, no complaints. Montevideo is a lovely town, it’s modern, has great weather, a great bus system, and hugely stocked grocery stores. We had originally only booked for 2 nights, but we were exhausted from travelling and after covering all that distance, and exhausted from doing nothing, so we decided that Montevideo would become our paradise, our Margaritaville, and like the song we were stuck. We stayed 5 nights (which doesn’t seem like long but at our current pace it is), and during those five nights we read, went to the beach and lived the yuppie lifestyle of whole-natural foods, wine, and fish. It was great and just what we needed. We have now cancelled going to Buenos Aires and decided to cruise up the Uruguayan coast going from beach to beach. We may have skipped what is supposed to be one of the world’s cities, but right now we need a vacation from our trip. The hassle (and I guess job) of going from bus to bus, and the passive inactivity of those buses has left us tired and not ready for another destination, or another sight. Right now having no sights and just starring at some sand and water with the only plan on the table being to get some fish, veggies and a bottle of wine is needed even when on a trip (vacation) around the world.