17 Hours on the Big Blue Bus

by Colly
Kyle and me on the bus in Argentina.

Kyle and me on the bus in Argentina.

Leather seats wide enough for two people? check
Polyester fleece blankets? check
Half-stuffed pillow? check
Seats that recline 180 degrees? check
TV playing weird movies? check
Seat belt damp with cleaning fluids? check
IPods, Kindles, and laptops out and ready? check
On a bus? check!

Yes it’s true, on a bus. When people think of a bus, the words that probably pop in their heads are: crowded, smelly, hard plastic seats, lucky if you get a seat, and most of all, gross. Not this bus.

The only part of this bus that was smelly was the bathroom — but it’s cool it had a bathroom.

The bus station was super busy.

The bus station was super busy.

When my parents told my brother and me that we were going on a seventeen-hour bus ride north from Bariloche in Patagonia to Mendoza, which is Argentina’s wine region, I thought they were kidding. I was wrong.

First, we got all of our stuff together and took an hour-long taxi ride to the bus station. Finally we got there and had to wait 45 minutes in the station because the bus wasn’t there yet. Then it arrived.

The bus was a giant blue, black, and gray two-story bus called Andesmar. It reminded me of the double-decker tour buses in England, but this one had a roof. Our seats were on the first floor, in the back. No one showed up to take the other seats, so we had the whole downstairs to ourselves!

I was expecting it to be more bus-like — you know, just seats — but instead it was like an airplane, but better! It had huge leather seats that could go all the way back to make a bed. It had those polyester fleece blankets and half-stuffed pillows that are surprisingly really comfortable. It also had those little lights and air-conditioning vents above each seat, and instead of flight attendants there were bus attendants.

When the bus finally arrived, we were all really excited.

When the bus finally arrived, we were all really excited.

A Sony flat-screen TV mounted on the wall was playing a creepy movie that was in English but had Spanish subtitles. The movie was The Witches of Eastwick; I do not recommend it at all.

On the bus I started and finished a book, went through two packs of gum, watched two movies on TV, watched a movie on my IPod, listened to songs on my IPod, and ate.

I also played toothpick bingo. A guy on the bus passed out toothpicks and mini bingo sheets the size of Post-Its. When a number on your sheet gets called, you pop it out with your toothpick. A guy who works on the bus called out numbers in Spanish, and my mom translated the numbers in English to us. After about three numbers I got bored so I quit, but my brother kept playing and was one away from winning when we heard a guy on the top floor shout out that he won.

For a while I got bored so I looked out the window and there was a really pretty sunset.

For a while I got bored, so I looked out the window, and there was a really pretty sunset.

For a while I didn’t have anything to do, so I looked out the window and saw lots of pretty desert-like hills and dry land, and a pink and orange sunset.

The bus also serves food, just like on an airplane — but I discovered that bus food is worse than airplane food by far. This was our first super long bus ride so we didn’t know everything we were suppose to do to prepare; for example: BRING YOUR OWN FOOD OR YOU WILL HAVE TO EAT THEIRS!

First they gave us a snack of soggy crackers and cookies that were like baby crackers with an odd filling. I didn’t eat any.

The snack was handed out at 6:00, close to when I would usually eat dinner back in Piedmont, and the real dinner wasn’t served until 11:00! I was absolutely starving! I could barely stay awake. My brother had already passed out while waiting. Finally, after forever, it came.

Kyle passed out while waiting for food.

Kyle passed out while waiting for food.

First there was a cold appetizer consisting of a roll of bread that was so hard and stale you could use it as a hammer. Also, there was mushy roll of ham that fell apart when I picked it up, complimented by fake sweaty cheese with cut-up potato and carrots. And last but not least, orange and slimy flan. I ended up just eating the bread. After that I was bored, so I opened the sugar packet and dumped it in the flan. Then I did the same with the all the condiments and then the food. Before I knew it, all of my food ended up in the flan.

The appetizer...so not appetizing.

The appetizer...so not appetizing.

Finally, a half-hour later, the hot food came. I really didn’t know what it was going to be; I thought it might be a hot dog or a hamburger or something like that, but no. It turned out to be chicken-fried steak. What is chicken-fried steak? It is fried, dessicated, thin steak covered in oil, breadcrumbs, and mayonnaise, lying on mashed potatoes with a pound of salt mixed in. I opened the foil covering and almost puked on it, but trust me, it would have blended right in. I didn’t eat any of it besides the mashed potatoes (which turned out to be pretty good, just a little over salted).

The main course...a.k.a. mystery meat...a.k.a. chicken-fried steak.

The main course...a.k.a. mystery meat...a.k.a. chicken-fried steak.

After dinner they played another movie at 12 midnight, but my family and I were so tired that we asked one of the workers on the bus to turn off our downstairs screen.

Midnight: time for bed!

Midnight: time for bed!

Finally I went to sleep. The next morning I woke up at 8:00 to a chorus of talking, buses all around me, and most of all, my mom shaking me to try to get me up. I sat up and looked around — we were in Mendoza, where we’re now spending a week.

I loved going on this bus. If you ever do a super long bus trip like this one, I just have one tip: bring your own food.

10 Responses to “17 Hours on the Big Blue Bus”

  1. im never eating on a bus! if i do, ill bring chinese food and jamba juice. lol!

    miss u!

  2. Awesome!!! I will def bring my own food… Gross! I am in Zion, Utah, and I am going to Bryce, Utah tomorrow. After that, I am going to las Vegas. Bye 4 now!
    Claire :)

  3. Colly,

    Brian and I enjoyed reading your story of the 17 hour bus trip. You are an EXCELLENT writer and we enjoyed the photos!



    I thought your story was great. I thought it was amazing how much writing you did. Also I thought some parts like when you described dinner and how long you had to wait for dinner was very interesting. I’m looking forward to some of your other stories.


  4. Colly – I guess the world is changing to fabulous seats and ghastly food – especially for travel. Your descriptions were fabulous and the picture of Kyle looked like he was in heaven. Thank you for a wonderful and exciting story. Hugs, Mimi

  5. That food looks disgusting!! lol…I might have opted to suffer through the flan…I can usually stomach anything where the primary ingredient is sugar:) I guess you will just have to become a “snack packer” so that travel food disasters can be avoided ..lol Love

  6. what a super adventure! lovely recap!

  7. Colly,

    What a terrible post to read on the morning when Siobhan and Karen are making delicious tofurkey for Thanksgiving, but now–all I’ll be thinking of is your steak & potatoes cum puke!

    We just drove 17 hours out here to San Francisco, so that’s kind of coincidental that both our trips were the same length. We slept in our car somewhere in the middle of the desert (we folded the back seat down, and it was very cozy)–and amazing stars from horizon to horizon–but cold! When we woke up, there was a quarter inch of ice coating the insides of the windows. I’m glad to see (from that pool shot on your mom’s blog) that the weather is warming up where you are.

    Gotta run. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

    –Uncle David

  8. Hi Colly,
    I loved your post and it made me actually want to ride a bus for 17 hours, but I now know to bring my own food as the meal they provided sounded disgusting! Ugh! Time for me to prepare my dinner on a dark and stormy night in Vermont (we’re having tilapia tonight!). Keep up the great writing, I love reading what you have to say, love, Sayso

  9. colly i LOVE you blog!! your writing is like perfessional. wait how do u spell that? it says its not a word!!
    anyway, miss u a lot!!!

  10. Amelia Eldridge on March 30th, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    iiiiiiiiiiccccccccccckkkkkkkkkkkkk! and i thought airplane food couldn’t get any worse!