Doing it the hard way

Trip Start Apr 17, 2006
Trip End Jun 14, 2006

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Flag of Argentina  ,
Saturday, May 27, 2006

Let me tell you how they staffed the Rosario bus station, because it's quite an interesting story. A few years ago, the building underwent minor refurbishments, and the powers that be decided to employ a completely new staff to better suit the smart new surroundings. The previous employees had been friendly and helpful, which was no good at all, so in order to attract the right calibre of candidate, the management ran a nationwide contest to find Argentina's grumpiest and most obnoxious people, the winners receiving a prestigous position behind one of the much-sought after desks within the large compound.

My wish was simple: to return to whence I had came, back to Victoria, the other side of the rivers and marshes, to continue my journey East. I arrived at the bus station around two o´clock to catch a bus over the no-bicycles-allowed road and possibly even have time to chomp my way through a few miles at the other end, if I was lucky. I approached the desk of the company running the two o´clock bus, and asked the customary question, can you take my bike, expecting the customary answer, yes. However, such an answer was not presented. Instead: "What you are proposing is as immaculate a fashioning of perfect impossibility as you are likely to find anywhere." Me: "Actually it's a simple case of putting it in the coach's hold, it's never been a problem bef-" "Next!"

So that's the two o'clock bus out then. I receive a similar response from the two thirty and three o'clock bus companies, so I approach the three thirty company. It was these guys who carried my bike from Victoria on Tuesday, the very same place where I am trying to return to today - how could they refuse? The desk was manned by a young guy with a silly haircut. Yep, he refused, and even refused when I waved Tuesday's ticket in his face, deliberately kept to hand in case of just such an eventuality. "So you are telling me that you carry bikes from Victoria to Rosario but not from Rosario to Victoria?" "Correct." "That doesn´t make sense. Let me see your supervisor." "No, sorry, I am the next Damien Hirst, as yet undiscovered, forced into this wageslave job while I struggle for the recognition I deserve, and am therefore going to be as unhelpful as I can. Goodbye." I am tempted to scratchbitepullridiculouslyfashionedhair, but mindful of my manners, I retreat a few steps before swearing in a polite, English manner. It barely does justice to my livid fury.

Now what do I do? That's all the companies out, and if you think I can just adjust my route over a different road, forget it, the next crossings both south and north are about two day's ride away. I found some sort of office of some sort of regulator, up several flights of narrow stairs, and when I eventually managed to rouse attention at the top, the man explained my rights, which unfortunately did indeed not extend to carrying my bike on a bus. He was saying something else, too, but it was littered with vocabulary outside my modest range. Thank goodness (blessing of the day number 1), there was some lady there filling out a form who intervened to interpret. Apparently, I had to send my bike separately. A solution! Not a particularly satisfactory solution, but a solution nevertheless.

So I went to the place to send it. "Can I send my bike to Victoria please, none of the coach companies will let me take it." "No, it has to be in a box." "Of course, how stupid of me, how could you possibly take it the short one-hour journey without a box, let me just pop round the corner to the bike-sized box shop and pick one up, I'll be back before you can say Jack Robinson."

So off I go to find a box. Remarkably (blessing of the day number 2), a nearby newsagent did have a couple of small boxes that I would be able to cut up in such a way as to show willing. I went back to the sending place and made a very ostentatious show of spending ages and ages wrapping yard after yard of selltape around my bike, which wasn't so much 'in' a 'box', as sandwiched between a couple of sheets of old cardboard, with the handlebars, pedals, saddle and back wheel poking out. But I knew the guy couldn't turn me away when I had spent so long to satisfy his whim.

By this time it was about five o'clock, so I took myself and my luggage, almost impossible to carry around without a bike to hang it off, to put myself on a bus. An hour and a half later, I arrived in Victoria, and going to get my luggage from the coach hold, noticed my bike was there with it. Yep - I had gone to all that stress and hassle, with considerable expense of both time and money, simply in order to get my bike where it could have gone anyway: in the hold of the coach. Now people say that the UK is rule-bound, and I been getting used to Argentina's more relaxed approach to life, but today has changed my impression somewhat. Craziness - just the sort of uptight bureaucratic nonsense that forces me to pollute my blog entries with ranting and raving.
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me on

I laughed a lot. Why don't just hitchhiked the travel back to Victoria? Any "camioneta" or small truck could carry your bicycle.

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