Border Crossing - A Travel Day Of Hell!.

Trip Start Feb 01, 2005
Trip End Dec 31, 2020

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Where I stayed
Posada Del Marques Salta
Read my review - 4/5 stars

Flag of Argentina  ,
Monday, January 3, 2011

3rd January has to go down as a BAAAAAAAD travel day - one of the worst.

First bad thing was we found we had a US of A American doing the same taxi, bus package as us. Now, we have met lots of nice Americans when travelling, but as a rule would rather travel without them in the vicinity! The "Lanky Yank" was opinionated and naive and although he said he had been travelling in South America for six months every year for the last ten years, he had only slightly more of a grasp of the Spanish language than we have. Our shared taxi (booked at FLECHA office in Tarija) to the border was in a small four wheel drive with a Bolivian family in the very back, the Lanky Yank and ourselves in the middle and another Bolivian man in the front with the driver. Eight in total and very Squeezy!   

At the border we went through the exiting Bolivia formalities but the Lanky Yank got stopped. We waited for a little while, then walked on without him through “no man's land” to enter Argentina. At the border control for entering Argentina we had to put our luggage and personal items on a screening conveyor and a lovely man helped me hoist my back pack up again onto my back for the next kilometer walk. We had got about 500 metres away when I suddenly realized I did not have my camera bag! The “lovely” man had distracted me and I had missed picking up my bag. Avan stayed by the roadside with our packs and I ran back in the steamy heat, heart pounding and wondering if my camera was gone for good. Not so! There was nothing sinister with the “lovely” man -  he handed over the camera and I was on my way again.

It was so hot and humid by the time we arrived at the actual immigration point for Argentina and after two kilometres of hiking with our packs on, through “no man’s land” our passports, even though in protective wallets, were quite damp. The official stamping them waved them around to air dry the stamps so they would not smudge! Unfortunately at this stage the Lanky Yank caught up with us again, saying he had to bribe his way out of Bolivia. The three of us caught a cab to the office of FLECHA bus in the Argentine border town where to our dismay the lady issued us with different bus tickets for a later departure. We gathered she was saying the bus would not be coming here, but we would be going in a shared taxi to Orun some 40 km away, to catch the bus. Off we go again, the Lanky Yank and us squeezed into a little vehicle with a big momma and child eating pizza.  

We arrive at Orun, a down at heel looking town, with a flash new bus station (so flash and new it does not have a clock….. more about that later!) and see a bus that is loading up that says “Salta”. It is only 5.00pm and our tickets are for 7.00pm so we try to see if they can be changed to this bus. There is no-one who speaks English and staff are not helpful, so we resign ourselves for the two hour wait by eating a meal and doing some crosswords. Finally it is time, but there is no bus. Eventually we discover the bus has GONE. The reason: When we came over the border from Bolivia we had to move our clocks forward an hour – we had asked the Yank (he gave the impression he was soooo experienced in these matters!) and he had said there is no time difference.

So now we are REALLY pissed off. The three of us are the only foreigners in the whole bus station. The counter staff at FLECHA knew we were there. There is no clock ANYWHERE in the bus station. They just had to come and get us and say this is your bus! Not sure, but probably, that we were not helped because they thought we were three Americans or because we were sold our ticket in Bolivia. Over the next hour we tried to get them to put us on the next bus, which we had ascertained had plenty of seats (which would be the last for the day) but they would not. Eventually with only minutes to spare we paid for new tickets and boarded the (half empty!) bus.

Since we are having a bad run anyway – this bus turned into the bus ride from hell - screaming kids, noisy Spanish music videos, vibration noises and a milk run of stops dumping us finally in Salta at 1.00am. We had no accommodation booked and the first one we tried had no vacancy. The taxi left us at the second choice and thankfully a room was available. A welcome shower to wash away the day’s woes and a vow taken that no more late arrivals without booked accommodation! 

Next day we awoke to a gorgeous sunny day in Salta but still decided we would book an afternoon bus all the way through to Buenos Aries (21 hours) rather than stay on. We were able to get tickets for our favourite seats (up the front on the upper story) and this time the seats were the executio type that lay back, 100% into a bed for the night. While waiting for the bus we walked around the streets of Salta, getting a little feel for the place and knowing it would be quite a nice place, but we're moving on - Buenos Aries of the Tango and Evita fame is calling us.
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