Thursday, January 14, 2010

Buses and Cars

I'm so excited that we will be renting a car on Friday for the weekend. We tried to rent a car last weekend, but we didn't plan ahead of time, and every car agency was fully booked. (why had we imagined there would be cars waiting for us for the choosing?)

So far, we have been getting around by bus, which is not bad, just a bit inconvenient, since we are about 24 kilometers outside the city center. And the bus stop is about 1/4 mile from the cabin down a steep hill. Not so bad if the weather is nice, but the weather has NOT been cooperating lately, and lugging groceries up the hill in the cold wind and rain is not too fun.

This will be the first time we will drive in Argentina. We don't need to drive in Buenos Aires, and I really wouldn't want to anyway, because the traffic is crazy. But it's a bit more sane up here in the mountains, and so it shouldn't be too stressful.

More than anything, I look forward to the freedom of being propelled through space and time by our OWN POWER. Being dependent on others to move you has a kind of effect on one's psychology, I think. In Buenos Aires, I don't really feel it, because there are so many taxis, buses, subways, remises- plenty of ways to get around, and they are not prohibitively expensive for me. I always feel I have the power to get where I want when I want (barring city flooding or protests, of course.)

But here, taking a taxi from the center of Bariloche to our cabin is $70 pesos- a little too pricey for a daily ride. And renting a car for two months is expensive as well. Our bikes are fine for little trips to the local convenience market, but we can't take the laundry or carry a lot of groceries. And biking all the way to town is too far to be convenient. So we've been dependent on the bus.

If I'm not worried about time, I actually like taking the bus- I like watching the variety of people. Moms with babies, workers sleeping on their way home from a hard day's work, tourists trying to figure out which stop to get off, teenagers stealing kisses. I love the way old ladies get on, fix their eyes on someone, and tell them to get out so they can sit down. Sometimes the bus gets so crowded, people are crammed together like sardines; it hurtles down a curvy mountain road faster than it should, and everyone goes about their lives, chatting, sleeping, flirting, thinking. I get this feeling like we're all in this together- whatever THIS is. Life? It's a reminder that I share this world with all kids of people-- something you forget when you are isolated in your own car all the time.

Nevertheless, I'm excited to have a car for the weekend. To go where and when we want, stop where we want, fill the car up with food, and not have to carry groceries up the hill. The only drag is that it's a manual transmission, which I have never learned to master.

So I'm dependent on Rob's driving. Ah, well. Independence is relative, isn't it?