¨Without the bitter the sweet never tastes as good¨ Vanilla Sky.

    After more than a month of chicken rice and salad I cannot express the smile and satisfaction I felt the first time I bit into a 400gram, $2 steak.  Cooked ourselves we literally gorged ourselves our first night in Argentina, but, i´m getting to that…..

    The morning after our premier first class train ride, on which I slept like a baby with a pillow, blanket and 2 tabs of diazapam, we walked the length of Villazon (the Bolivian, Argentinian border town) and bought our bus tickets from the border to Salta.  A comfortable two-story bus with reclinable seats was heaven and I even slept until my bottle of water, which I had stored up above came crashing down upon my head.  I couldnt tell if the person opposite me had a look of sympathy or amusement as I came too with a lump quickly developing on my forehead.

   When we finally stopped, and were not told how long we would be, I assumed I atleast had enough time to change some bolivian money into Argentinian pesos and get something to eat.  When I returned to the bus station (six minutes later) I received my first stark reminder things were different in Argentina than Bolivia….. the bus was gone… with my backpack…. and all my friends.  Immediately I returned to the ticket office of my company and in very distressed spanished expressed my bus had ¨VAMOS¨  When the guy behind the counter laughed I lost the plot and started yelling in English (which surprisingly always works, but is not a good method of getting your own way over here) at which point he took me out the back and shuffled me into a taxi.  The chase was on….   We hurtled through the streets and along the highways as we chased my bus, all the time my wondering how the others let the bus leave without me.  I had actually begun to get quite worried (about my bag) and was convinced this taxi ride was taking longer than it should for me to catch up with my bus.  We turned a corner and there it was… relief smacked me in the face like a cold fish and, as I threw money at the taxi driver singing his praises, the doors of my bus closed and it started to roll away.  I chased that bus like a greyhound after a hare and with much banging on the drivers window convinced him to stop and let me reboard.  I re-entered the bus to a round of applause from all the other passangers and as I retook my seat learnt they had all tried everything to get him to stop for me but he wouldnt.  The moral of the story, being a gringo is not important to anyone in Argentina.

   

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