Call Me Wanderess

The Cross-Continental Trek

In the first 48 hours of my journey I experienced five distinctly different forms of travel. First, my quick 45 minute jaunt up to Seattle featured cramped knees and a rickety ride. Turbulents had the little plane rocking and rolling during the short time we were in the air. From Seattle I continued to Atlanta; this time in a window seat beside two young parents. In the mother’s lap sat adorable, six month old Margo, who would stare at me with her enchanting baby eyes and giggle when I made faces at her. For such a long flight she was surprisingly well behaved. I only heard her cry once. 
  

The best part of this flight, however, was the view. Gracias a dios for window seats! I am so thankful. The day was perfectly clear with a fat, shining sun, so I was treated to six hours of looking down on spectacular mountain scenery. I had no idea my country was so mountainous. From the window I saw see endless peaks with rivers winding between them in snakelike patterns. I read in one of my books once about how a therapist told one of his chronically depressed patients to take a year off to learn photography. The assignment was to find and document patterns in nature. That therapist was genius. Witnessing all the amazing designs created by the mountain range beneath me, I could completely relate. Once you see how spectacular the earth is, and get lost in it’s beauty, it is simply impossible to be sad.  
 

My longest flight, a whopping ten hours, began in darkness and ended in the early morning glow of Buenos Aires. Thanks to the generosity of my father, I got to fly first class; a first for me. Everything was so fancy I didn’t know what to do with myself. I started talking to my seat mate, an Argentino, who commented that he too felt a bit out of place. This was his first time as well. The food, I must say, was impressive, and the comfortable seat allowed me to get a good five to six hours of sleep. My seat buddy was from Patagonia, and in the morning gave me the names of some great places to go backpacking and kayaking. Evidently, in the expanse of nature preserve surrounding Bariloche (the Patagonian town I will visit in a few weeks) there are long hiking trails where you don’t need to bring a tent to camp out. Little wood “huts,” as he called them, are set up so you can just roll out your sleeping bag and crash for the night. I look forward to checking it out. 

The next section of the trip was by far the most difficult, as expected. Figuring out how the hell to get around a South American airport and plan your next steps. I’m well acquainted with the challenges these airports pose, thanks to my travels last summer. The best strategy is to stay calm, never freak out, and ask questions during EVERY part of the process. Long story short, I finally made it out of the airport with both my bags and boarded a bus that took me to the city center. This bus was phase four. Crammed full of people and lacking any air conditioning, I almost instantly sweated through all my clothes. I could feel the perspiration dripping down my face. The 90 degree weather was clearly a shock to my Portlandian system. 
 
Arriving at the city station, it took me a few wildly perplexing Spanish conversations before I realized that the bus terminal was another few miles away. My plans had changed slightly, and I now planned to go back to Córdoba (instead of staying in the capital) to see friends and get my bearings in a familiar place. But this required me getting on a cross country bus. A young Japanese guy with blonde highlights and I shared a remi, and the driver dropped us right in front of the giant bus terminal. After a lot of confusion, as always, I purchased my ticket to Córdoba. Being that there are 25 different “platforms” where the buses arrive, and my particular bus was 30 minutes late, I almost didn’t make it. But luckily some nice locals helped me out and made sure I got on the right one. Have I mentioned how much I love Argentinos? Then my sweaty, dirty self boarded the double decker colectivo for another 10 hours of travel. Phase five. 

I soon realized my seat was numero uno which meant I was situation on the top floor, in the first row, facing the huge front windows. A couple hours in, it became apparent that no one would be taking the seat next to me. All stretched out, with my 180 degrees of windows, cruising above the rest of the traffic, I felt like the queen of Argentina. The drive from Buenos Aires to Córdoba is mostly grasslands. This is where the Gauchos galloped across the fertile plains herding their cattle. The ultimate South American cowboy. Daydreaming about all the adventures to come, I took a long nap basking in the sun coming in through the glass. 

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