Hopefully with these directions, you’ll be all good to go with the buses (known as micros) when you get to Mendoza! 😀
I’ve shared this clip before, but this video illustrates the funny differences between the US (Europe in the video) and Argentina (represented by Italy). Our program director actually introduced the video during orientation and I thought it was too funny. 1:36 makes the point about buses.
1. Find your bus. This sounds simple, I know, but it’s quite complicated. First, you have to figure out the number that corresponds to where you’re headed. Say you’re going back to your house, and your bus is in the 5 group. Then you have to walk down the street to find a bus stop with a big 5 on it.
|not my photo, but basically what some buses here look like|
2. Next comes the WAITING. This is the worst part. The bus schedules (they have “schedules” online, but only use the source to get a rough idea of the time) simply don’t correspond with the arrival of the bus. Rarely, they’ll arrive early, or even on time. 99.9% of the time, they’ll be late. The average wait time spans from 10 minutes to an hour. Which may not make sense considering how fast the buses go down the streets and usually manages to escape traffic.
3. After much waiting, you see a number 5, which means the bus is in your group, but then you have to check the small number on the front left hand corner of the bus to make sure it’s going to your destination. Let’s say your bus number is 52. But by the time you can make out the tiny 52 written on the window, the bus speeds on by. Too late!
4. Luckily, another 52 bus approaches you. Flag it down! (be warned: when the buses are too full, the driver will just pass you!)
5. GET ON THE BUS. The bus driver won’t stop completely to make sure you’re on, so once you have a foot on the first step, hold on tight!
6. You must swipe your card at the front of the bus, but you have to hold it in a certain way. A magnetic chip inside the card will beep, then the machine will print out a receipt of how much money you have left on your card. But you have to do this super fast, as the bus will be going at a crazy speed any second and there will be people behind you, all impatient.
7. I was wrong about step 2. THIS is kinda the worst part. You have to squeeze past people to find a suitable place to stand. Unfortunately, there won’t be seats left and there will be so many people that you’ll be forced to stand in the middle, knees bent, one arm guarding your belongings, attempting to maintain SOME balance during the ride (many curves and bumps), and trying to breathe. The bars are too high on the bus so no one can even hold on to them for dear life. Brace yourself, and try not to bump into other passengers too much!
8. You see your stop. How to get off? You have to make your way over to the back of the bus, press a buzzer, then get ready to hop off. SIGH. Fresh air!
*Lesson learned: Plan accordingly! You should always be prepared to have something to do (book, ipod, etc). Lots of waiting around and frustration are to be expected.