What a trip! Going from Potosí / Bolivia to our next destination, Trelew (pronounce it “Tre-le-o”) in northern Patagonia, was a long journey of almost 4.000 kilometer. It took us no less than 5 days!
Leaving Bolivia by plane was so expensive that we decided to head to Argentina by bus, on the terribly bumpy southbound road. It took us 10 hours to reach the border, only 380 kilometers from Potosí. We crossed it on foot and managed the formalities in less than 10 minutes. We stayed overnight in La Quiaca / Argentina, the twin city of Villazon / Bolivia. These two small cities are only separated by a small bridge.
The next day we took the bus to Salta, another 8 hour ride plus a two hour stop to change in San Salvador de Jujuy. Even though the busses on that leg are only “Semi Cama”, they offer a much higher level of comfort than everything we had experienced in Bolivia … And of course there are “Cama” Busses and even “Primera Clase”, its seats turn into a real horizontal bed. So far we never traveled a route where these are used, but we are curious to travel on them, supposedly it is as comfortable as going Business Class in a plane!
In Salta we tested our luck by going straight to the airport, but all flights to Buenos Aires for the next two days were fully booked. So we got on the list for “stand-by”, waiting at the airport for more than 4 hours, hoping …
Gilles got the last seat on the Aerolineas Argentina flight at 08:00 pm and Heidi on LAN flight at 09:30 pm. We reunited in Buenos Aires at midnight, happy to be there but exhausted and without a place to stay. The first 10 phone calls were totally unsuccessful: all cheap hotels recommended in the Lonely Planet were full. Luckily, the tourist information found us a place in the barrio of Palermo, at the Southwest Hostel.
This noisy, extremely simple and expensive party hostel was our home for three nights, while we checked on accommodation for Gilles family since their reservation at the Hostal Portal del Sur had disappeared. It was a good way to get to know the different areas of central Buenos Aires.
We also had to book a plane ticket to our next destination Trelew, near the Peninusla Valdez, which is heavily booked at this time of the year. We got a flight at 05:40 am on Wednesday, November 28th.
At the check in, we discovered that we were not booked, even though we had a written confirmation from Tangol, the travel agent where we bought the ticket. The explanation from Aerolineas Argentinas was unbelievable, but turned out to be true: the travel agent took our money, but never paid Aerolineas Argentinas for the tickets, so the reservation was cancelled!
But we were so very lucky again. First, the plane was not full, so we at least could buy new tickets, which by the way cost the same no matter when you purchase them. Second, we had paid for the tickets with credit card, so we let Tangol know that we would reject any debit from them. Their pathetic excuse was that there were problems with the credit card.
So on Wednesday, November 28th at 07:40 am, we arrived in Trelew, in the north of Patagonia, precisely five days after we left Potosí … What a trip!