Trying to pronounce "Jujuy"
Trip Start Aug 25, 2008
50Trip End Dec 16, 2008
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I didn't originally intend to stay in Jujuy, but while heading to the Bolivia-Argentine border, my bus was delayed about an hour due to road construction. At the border, there were a ton of money changers on the Bolivian side so I figured there must also be a ton on the other side - I'll just change money after I cross into Argentina.
There was nothing on the other side of the border.
I was in Argentina with only Bolivian currency, and the only ATM in town didn't accept my card.
At the bus station, they told me I missed the last direct bus to Salta, Argentina, but there is one going RIGHT NOW to some random city that is 30 minutes from Salta - and it's the last bus of the day south. "Yes, we'll take Bolivianos" they said, and I hopped on the bus and headed south.
The town I was going to was supposed to get off at was so small, it wasn't in my Lonely Planet book - and was to be dumped off at 11pm (with no cash). Bad idea.
So I planned to just hop off the bus at the largest town I could find on the way (and the town most likely to have an ATM on the Visa network).
Jujuy. Population 278,000. 9PM. Perfect.
"Is this Joo-jooey?" I asked the little old lady sitting across from me as we pulled into a bus terminal.
"Where?" she asked with a puzzled look.
"Joy-Joy" I tried.
"I don't know what you are asking me." So I showed her my map.
"Oh. You mean (weird coughing hooting sound). No - another hour."
Bolivia is the third largest cocaine producer behind Colombia and Peru and since I was on a bus from Bolivia, our bus was completely searched twice - all passengers off, all luggage searched, and they even pulled the bus over a purpose-built trench (like the kind at Jiffy Lube) so inspecters could get under the bus to look for smuggled drugs. Dogs, Guns, it was all fascinating. Since I was a gringo, I got special treatment - the police just padded my backpack a couple times and said "your're fine - go have a seat over there."
Jujuy was a mid-sized city, but instead of a tranquil town square with ice cream carts, Jujuy seemed to be mostly appliance and electronics supercenters, shoe stores, and cheesy glass and chrome shops selling jeans and t-shirts. Not my style. But it did have an ATM - so I had cash again! After finding a hotel, I had a killer steak dinner, a glass of wine, got some sleep and made plans to bolt to Salta the next morning.