Saying goodbye

Trip Start Sep 28, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Argentina  ,
Thursday, June 21, 2012

So this is it then.  Cheerio Paddy.  The next time we meet may well be on another continent, or not at all if he has his way.  Still I can see the tears in his eyes as we hug our goodbyes, and catch a sniff of the nose.  Or that may have been me.  All good things must come to an end, and like all great partner ships; Butch and Sundance, Fish and Chips, Turner and Hooch, this one eventually does as well.  After five months and five countries, the boys tour must draw to a close, and along with a decent travel partner, fellow sauce monster and kindred spirit, I've lost my translator and gained a significant chance of being ripped off.  Farewell my Irish friend, we will meet again when the winds and fates allow.  With a pang of loss, I board the bus to Mendoza.  Argentina awaits.

And it'll be waiting for a good time to come.  I wish people in these countries weren't such bare faced liars.  6 hours is the travel time they said..  5.45pm I'm meant to be pulling in.  Instead I'm stuck in what I've been told is the best border crossing in South America.  Apparently you just fly through.  Not so.  It is a shocking state of affairs, with cars, bikes and buses backed up for miles, and people milling around burger stands with no apparent order or system.  The queue shuffles forward at a snail pace, while I wait in line for some mystery meat in a bun.  By the time we're reaching the large warehouse border control, we've watched The Taking of Pelham 123 in Spanish, and I've said "oh for fucks sake" an alarming number of times.

You would think the set up would have us through in no time, with the Chilean PDI stamping the exit date and the Argentinian customs officer sitting next to him stamping the entrance.  Yet it is painfully slow.  Apart from that, every single bus is unloaded and the luggage put through the scanner.  You can imagine just how long this is taking, especially when one amorous baggage handler is deliberately sorting through the belongings of a gorgeous Chilean, just because she is gorgeous.  I don't blame him, I would do exactly the same.

After leaving at 11am, it's now dark as we pull through to the Argentinian side and snake down out of the Andes.  Up until this point it had been a stunning journey into the range, with the mountains perfect white vanilla ice cream snow sprinkled with chocolate shaving rocks.  My mouth was watering at the prospect of a Cornetto.  Spending nearly three hours in the border control somewhat dampened my spirits.  Had Paddy have been here it would have flown by, traveling is better when you have someone to converse with.  Even if it was just Paddy.

Mendozan lights do not seem to be very forthcoming as the bus pushes on into the dark.  I can't make out anything so first impressions of Argentina will have to wait, save the tiny pockets of light in the black.  We pass a 'Casino Mendoza' that gets my hopes up, but it turns out to be in the middle of nowhere and we've still some distance to cover.  It's 9pm before I'm in a bus station getting fleeced changing Chilean to Argentinian Pesos.  On a positive note I've already managed to buy my flag sticker as I needed small bills for the taxi.  I'm still lamenting the loss of the Irish head though as I discover the guy has robbed me of around 30 quid.


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