Sunday, September 20, 2009

I've been to Santiago in the DR, does that count?

Wow!  Have I got a story for you!

So...I was planning on going to Santiago, Chile this weekend but it didn't work out and let me tell you why.
The omnibus that I was going to take was scheduled to leave Friday afternoon at 5.  I decided to take the train to Retiro station, which is really close to the omnibus station.  It takes roughly 15 minutes or so to get Retiro from Belgrano R, the station I live close to.  So I decided I would leave my house at 4 just in case.  So I left my house and went to Belgrano R.  It wasn't long before a train came and I got in.  Then, having got in, I heard something on the loudspeaker, but being that it was A) a loudspeaker and 2) in Spanish, I couldn't understand what was said.  But people began getting off the train, and not just a few, but everyone and it looked like the TBA (Trenes Buenos Aires) were telling people to get off.  So I got off, somewhat confused.  I waited around the station for a couple minutes and then noticed people started getting back on again.  So I got on the train and proceeded to sit down.
After a couple more minutes the doors closed and the train began to pull away, but the wrong way!  "What's going on?" I thought.  I began to get nervous.  Was I going to miss the omnibus to Santiago?  I wasn't  really sure.  There wasn't really anything I could do.  So I just sat there as my nerves built and I tried to calm myself down a little.  I had never been taken the train this way, passed Belgrano R.  So when I arrived I had to leave the station in order to get to the right side of the tracks to go back to Belgrano R, and from there about 5 stations to Retiro.  Around this time I was really starting to get nervous about making it to the bus station on time.  I kept looking at my phone to see what time it was but tried not to.  Once the train came and I was actually in it (and going the right way) I was pretty realived. The train took a little longer than usual because I had to travel the extra station, plus it nearly stopped a couple times for whatever reason.  So by the time I got to Retiro, the final stop, it was about five minutes until 5.  Getting off the train at Retiro isn't easy because everyone gets off there and there is also  a whole bunch of people trying to get on because it's the last station.
I tried to make my way through the flood of people to the main lobby of the station so that I could run.  Once there was room, that's exactly what I did; I ran from the Retiro Train Station to the omnibus station just a few buildings away.  As I got there I received a cal from a friend of mine that was already on the bus.  I was desperately looking to try and find where I needed to go.  My friend asked me where I was because the bus was pulling out.  I told her I had just gotten to the station but didn't know where to find it.  I looked for an information desk and asked them if there was anything I could do to get on that bus.  I asked my friend if she could try and ask the driver to stop but it didn't seem possible for whatever reason.  So, when I went to the information desk they asked me what company I was with and told me where that company's desk was located.  So I ran upstairs and asked the company if there was anything that I could do.  They told me the name of the next station (Liniers) and said if I ran and caught a taxi I might be able to catch the bus there.  I only had 10 pesos, mind you, because I figured I would just change money when I got to Chile.  I almost didn't take any money but decided to take 10 pesos for whatever emergency might arise.  So I asked the attendant if that would be enough and he said it should be.
So I ran back down the stairs and outside and waved down a taxi.  Thankfully, that didn't take very long.  I told the driver where I needed to go and that I only had 10 pesos on me.  He said that wouldn't get me to where I needed to go.  It would take at least 20 pesos, but he could take me to the train station where I could catch the train from there to Liniers.  I almost just got out of the cab a few times but he said it was fine.  So about fifteen or so minutes pass and the meter starts to get closer to the 10 peso mark.  When it hit it we were in bumper to bumper traffic near the widest avenue in the world.  My nerves were still not holding up very well.  I had some pretty negative thoughts but was praying that God would calm me down and let me know that He had everything under control.
Anyway, I waited until the meter passed 11 pesos and then asked him what I should do.  He replied with, "Well, you don't want me to leave you in the middle of the street do you?"  So we continued down the road.  I was a little nervous as to what he was going to do about me not being able to pay because I had heard of people being forced to pay extra if they don't open the door before the start to pay.  Weird.  But there was really no way I could pay him.  I thought maybe he'd ask me for something, but what did I have but clothes and stuff?  I tried to think of what I could offer him if the occasion should arrive that he demanded something.  Eventually though, he took me all the way, two or three blocks away from the station.  it ended up costing something like $43,50 give or take.  I asked him who would cover it but he just told me not to worry about it.  I paid for a toll that he had to pay and that's all I could do.
So then I was dropped off by the cabdriver in a place I'd never been.  Thankfully, he told me whereabout the station was.  I thanked him several times and ran to the station.  There I asked if the bus had already gone through, which it had.  So I asked the people of the bus company what I could do.  The gave me a piece of paper with a number on it and said something like I could try and see where it is now.  I asked if there was anyway for me to get my money back but there was not.  I tried calling the number but it didn't seem to do anything and I didn't really know what I was going to do if I got an answer anyway.
So I called my host parents and told them that I missed the bus and I would be coming home after all.  So my host dad told me that I should catch the colectivo (basically the city buses) number 80 to Avenida Forest.  Thankfully, I had been on Avenida Forest once before, when I decided to take another way to get to Cabildo.  Avenida Forest is what the street that I live on (Washington) changes into.  Now that I had spent my 10 pesos I had to go to an ATM and get some money.  In order to take the colectivo, one must have monedos (change) so I spent a little while looking for an ATM.  Finally I found one and withdrew 30 pesos in case it didn't give me a 10.  Then I tried to get change for the 10 at a couple places.  The second place I tried, the woman asked me what I wanted (to eat).  So I just got an empanada de carne (sort of like a small calzone, they're very popular here).  The empanada cost 2 pesos so I got some change in coins and some in bills.
Then I had to find where the colectivo 80 would pick me up.  I asked a few people and then I finally found it.  And buses don't go in circles here so I had to make sure it was going the right way.  It was, thankfully! :) So I got on and stood around for a while in the bus.  Then I ended up sitting next to a woman, to whom I asked if Avenida Forest was coming up.  She replied with, "Almost, more or less, but that's the stop that I'm getting off on."  Great! :) I could just get off with her.  And that I did.  Then I was about five blocks from home.  Then I walked home and got there just before dinner.  Perfect!

Through this experience I really had to depend on God.  If I were by myself I could not have made it.  I am soooooo thankful that God was with me throughout it all.  At times I would get to myself but I would just pray that God would calm me down and help me to know what to do.  And He did.  It was a crazy experience and very frustrating.  But with God, it all worked out.  And now He let me stay here in Buenos Aires this weekend, perhaps to have a nice, real conversation with my friends.  Plus, I have a great story to tell my grandchildren! :)

I hope this story finds you well.  Have a great day! :)  ¡Cuidense!


  1. kirby i'm so sad you didn't make it chile! it was beautiful there. what a nice cabbie though!

  2. jajaaaaa wow kirby! what an adventure!!!!!!! Esta es la historia más interesante que he leido!!! I was imagining you while reading this!! you could make a book with stories like this haha! I am sorry that you couldn't go! but the adventures was great! when else are you gonna live something like this!!!! your story made my day! lol
    ..giani k.