We’re starting to feel like pros at the whole night bus thing. Our next destination was Puerto Iguazú, the Argentinian town next to Iguazú Falls. It’s twelve hours away from Concordia, and we thought that amount of traveling should definitely be done over night. The discounted bus tickets we acquired three days ago in Concordia had us leaving at 8pm and arriving in Puerto Iguazú just after 8am the next day.
We had to leave our Airbnb at 12pm yesterday morning, so we decided to lurk in a Plaza playing cribbage and drinking maté, and reading when we tired of that. We managed to pass two hours this way until it started raining and even the tree-covered arbor wasn’t enough to keep us dry. We popped into a cafe, which luckily was not partaking in the city-wide siesta habit and hung out there nursing a coffee and catching up on some blogging until it was time to head to the bus station.
We knew the bus would give us breakfast, but we weren’t sure about dinner, so Eric acquired a super pancho (an extra-long hot dog) at the bus terminal for a dollar and we sat down to wait. At 7:40pm we got up to go outside so we could see the bus arrive since there were no information screens like we’d seen in other bus terminals and we couldn’t really hear the announcements. At 7:55pm Eric went to ask which platform the bus would be arriving at and learned it would be on platform 1. At 8:05pm Eric went to ask where the bus was and was told it was running a bit late; it should arrive in 10 minutes. Having confirmed the bus had not come and gone unseen, we settled in to wait for 8pm Argentina time. The bus finally showed up at 8:45pm on platform 1 as expected. The bus unloaded some passengers who had been traveling for many hours already before letting new passengers on. While we were waiting to stow our big backpacks, we smelled a pretty strong, unpleasant odor that we hoped was coming from the dumpster nearby, and not the bus.
Unfortunately, it was the bus that smelled, but it seemed to be worst downstairs and we were seated upstairs. It was bad enough that the bus attendant sprayed a Febreeze-like spray up and down the bus aisles. It worked surprisingly well, and Jess realized the Febreeze commercials where they claim to put real people, blindfolded, in a foul smelling room that has been sprayed with Febreeze to mask the fact there are dead fish hanging from the ceiling might actually be real.
Pretty soon the bus attendant came by again, this time to hand out plastic trays that have two semi-circles cut out at the bottom for your legs. We were getting dinner after all! The food arrived in plastic covered trays and consisted of two pieces of ham, a rice salad (think pasta salad, but with rice), a roll, a muffin, four hard bread sticks and Parmesan cheese.
It seemed like sort of an odd combination – what was the Parmesan for? – but we started eating it anyway. Eric put his Parmesan cheese on the rice salad and thought that made it taste better. And then the bus attendant came by again, but this time he had hot food packaged like a hot airplane meal: milanesa with mashed potatoes. That’s what the Parmesan was for! The bus attendant then did a round for drinks: wine, coke, water, sprite. The trays with leg holes also have a cup holder – so clever.
After dinner, we read a bit and then went to sleep. A twelve-hour bus leaves plenty of time to get a full night’s sleep, and this bus was pretty quiet. Unlike our previous buses, this one was not direct, so it made three or four stops along the way including one at 4am to drop off passengers, but we mostly managed to sleep until we were awakened for breakfast. Breakfast was a snack box with an alfajor and a package of little cookies. Eric didn’t really think that seemed like breakfast, so he saved his for later. The bus attendant made a round with tea, coffee and maté cocido, all three of which came in (tea) bags. We’d never seen coffee in a (tea) bag before, but now that we think about it, we’re not sure why. Eric reported the coffee was bad, but he thinks it might have just been bad coffee not an inherently flawed brewing strategy.