Lost ≠ Adventure
I totally got lost hardcore today in one of the most dangerous areas in Buenos Aires by myself, without a phone. My host mom is so sweet—she wanted to make sure that I was going to be able to get to the University for orientation alright this morning (yesterday she accompanied me all the way there on the bus)—so she made sure I was going to meet up with some friends…only my alarm clock didn’t ring, and so I was going to be late meeting them. I pretty much knew where I had to go anyways so I rushed getting ready and left the house at 8 (had to be there at 8:45 so I had plenty of time. I was going to take the 60 bus directly there. Only…I got all twisted by the street names and such that I totally lost what sense of direction I had in the first place….
Luckily though, I saw the 60 bus and I was able to catch it! I was so proud of myself until I started recognizing buildings that we saw on the city tour yesterday…from Palermo, which was the opposite direction of the university as far as I could tell. I’d already been on the bus for a good 15 or 20 minutes though and so I took out my handy Guía T and looked up where the city ended and the bus route would have to end by association and it wasn’t far. I figured the bus would just turn around, I’d be like five minutes late, but hey! That’s why I left early J The bus was still about half full and so was my pride–so nothing much lost. But each person that got off drained my optimism glass a little…until I was the only one on the bus. All of the sudden the buildings changed to shacks, the clean streets changed to litter and cobblestone, and I began to panic a little. I still half figured that everyone else knew where they were going and so that was why they were lucky enough not to have to experience the entire city in all its glory before arriving at their destinations. When we finally arrived at the bus station I was very on edge. I could tell this wasn’t a very safe neighborhood, plus, in the city tour yesterday they explicitly told us that we shouldn’t go to La Boca (which I could identify by it’s fantastic colors) without at least one other person, even if it was still light out (we were told to just not go there at night), and unless we stayed on the main street where we were likely to get pickpocketed, but encounter no other serious violence. So…leave it to me to end up helplessly lost at a sketchy bus station in one of the top 20 most populated cities in the world.
Anyhow, after it was clear that everyone was supposed to get off at that stop I went and used my limited Spanish to ask the bus driver how I should go about getting home…he smiled at me and told me he’d help me, that I was on the completely wrong bus, and that, no problem, he’d drive me to the other bus stop because he was actually done working and the bus wouldn’t go back the way it came. I am certain that I would not be the only person in this situation whose mind would flash to that movie Taken and whose feet would feel a strong urge to get the hell out of there. It got worse. I got off the bus with him and he told me to get back on the bus…so I did. I sat near the doorway while he talked to a man who looked well dressed and was just standing at the bus stop. The man nodded a couple times while the bus driver spoke to him (all I could catch were the names of my cross streets, and by the way he pointed at me I knew they were talking about me.) The well-dressed man proceeded to make a phone call where he kept his phrases short and nodded a bunch. I was totally freaked out that maybe they were organizing a kidnapping or something. I was just a sitting duck… Eventually the bus driver got back on the bus, shut the door and started driving. I swear I could see my heart beating so hard it moved my jacket every time. He made small talk—asking what I was studying at the university, how long I’d been in the city, etc. but it did nothing to calm my nerves, only made me more nervous. When we finally stopped at a different bus stop and he let me off and told me where to take it I finally let go of the breath I didn’t even know I was holding. I arrived safely at the university still in time to take my placement test and Carmen (our API director) was waiting outside for me.
Probably not the most comfortable experience but now I know which bus to take to school…
Oh, and the picture of the sad neighborhood in La Boca is not my own–I would have been an idiot to take out my camera–but it’s near where I got lost.
Posted on July 25, 2012, in Fall Semester, Travel and Study and tagged Argentina, Buenos Aires, bus system, city, LOST, omgi'mgonnadiefeeling, small town girl, Study Abroad, taken, terrified. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.