Travel, and life, does not go according to plan

Today is a Nuquí day. A reminder that travel, and life, does not always go according to plan.

I woke up at 5:20 a.m. today to catch a 7:00 a.m. bus to Osorno, Chile. (I need to cross the border to renew my passport.) I brushed my teeth, washed my face, got dressed, packed my backpack and then walked to the neighborhood bus stop to catch the local bus to the terminal in town. It was 5:50 a.m. Mornings are slow, still and silent in Argentina, especially 12 kilometers out from Bariloche.

At the bus stop, I stood in the little shelter as rain drizzled outside. I waited 40 minutes for any bus heading into town to appear. I counted four or five buses heading in the opposite direction, but there was nothing coming my way. For 40 minutes. Nada.

At 6:30, a bus came into view. It wouldn’t take me directly to the terminal, but it was the first bus to show up in the direction I needed to go and I figured it would get me close.

Wrong.

The bus ride into town is usually 20-25 minutes. This ride was a bit longer. Since I was on a personally less familiar bus, I got turned around. Instead of getting off in town — I thought we’d come back around another way that I was familiar with — I unknowingly rode to the end of the line.

When the bus stopped around 7:10 in a bus yard out in the middle of who knows where — mind you, the sun isn’t rising until 9:00 a.m. these days — the driver called out that it was the end of the line. I was sitting near the front. I was the only one onboard. He shouted as if there were a full bus, probably trying to break me from whatever trance he thought I was in. He looked at me in the rearview mirror. I got up, spoke to him — he exclaimed I was very far from the terminal — figured out which bus would take me back into town, got off and waited for another bus. In a dark, rainy bus yard early in the morning.

Fortunately, the next bus came relatively quick.

By now I’d completely given up hope that I would make my 7 a.m. bus to Chile. People and colectivos may always run late in Argentina, but in my experience, micros run on time.

Still, I was hopeful there’d be another bus to Chile today. So I rode my second local bus of the day into town then got off to catch a taxi to the terminal.

As I was standing on the curb keeping my eyes peeled for a taxi, a bus drove by — getting closer to the curb as it neared me — and doused me in water. It felt like a scene straight out of a movie. I can think of far more appealing movie scenes to be cast in.

A few minutes later, a slightly wetter and colder Emily hailed a taxi and took it to the terminal. Once inside the terminal — really a peaceful place — I approached the ticket counter for Via Bariloche. Through a small hole in the glass, I explained my predicament to the Via Bariloche employee and asked if there were any other buses to Chile today.

There were not.

The employee was quite patient with me and my Spanish — I am grateful for that — and tried to change my afternoon return ticket from today to tomorrow in the computer system, but the system wouldn’t let him. He told me to call the number on my ticket before the departure time this afternoon. He said someone could help me change the ticket over the phone.

So now, a little after 8 a.m., I’m headed back to my house on yet another local bus — the one I’m most familiar with and had been waiting for this morning.

I have all day to come up with a plan for making this passport run to Chile happen tomorrow. I’m not thrilled that I woke up at 5:20 a.m. on a rainy morning — perfect sleeping weather — for what feels like nothing. A three-hour excursion in and around Bariloche all before sunrise. But hey — it started snowing a few minutes ago, so that’s exciting. (That’s not sarcasm: I really am loving the snow.)

While admittedly tired and frustrated — more with myself than anyone else — I am reminded that life rarely goes according to plan and that something like this is not the end of the world. It’s tough to remember that when you’re tired and feeling as though you’ve just wasted time and money, but it is what it is. Life goes on.

Bariloche is far different from Nuquí — recap of the Nuquí predicament here — especially since we’re in the midst of winter right now. But while my surroundings and the circumstances of this missed vessel scenario are different, I am learning the same lesson once more. I’ve learned it before; I’ll learn it again; and I’ll keep learning it until the day I die. Because life does not go according to plan. It’s a lesson we all learn throughout our lives.

As I was walking around town looking for a taxi this morning, I was reminded of the Colombian woman, our guardian angel, in Nuquí. The morning we “missed” our flight back to Medellín, she said, “There’s a solution to everything.” She was right. There is a solution to everything. I will solve this one, and life will go on.

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