Friday, 17 October 2014

The welcome wagon

Today I would like to share an unique experience which I only recommend to those with strong stomachs. It all started when I had to return to the city of Buenos Aires from Grand Bourg, a city in the province of Buenos Aires, named after the french city in which lived and died General San Martin, one of the heroes of Argie independence. So considering that the main highway that leads to the city was going to be blocked by one of the many protests that are regularly held here, I decided to do a train bike combo, that takes roughly 2hrs door to door, compared with the hour and change that it takes by car.
So I bike to the Grand Bourg train station that is part of the Gral. Mitre Line, which is one of the 7 train lines that serve the city along with the 8 subway lines and hundreds of buses, that puts Buenos Aires in the top ranking cities with good public transport, very similar to London or New York. Now having said this I will tell you the downside of the journey.

When the train arrived I was told that the bikes must go in the "Furgon" which translates to waggon, that is a section of the train reserved for cargo. So the train has one up front  and one at the back, which was the one I caught. First obstacle is getting your bike up there cuz its one of those all style waggons, like the ones you see in the movies, that stand a good 3 or 4 feet up from the platform. So you either chuck your bike up or ask someone to help you from above. This was´nt a problem cuz the folks that were already inside helped me up, even though the place was packed with goods and people. Just to give you an idea, the "Furgon Area" takes about a 4th part of the car, which is aprox 10 by 6 ft. Now in that small enclosure there were already two full size supermarket buggies, three huge bags with flowers, 4 bikes and around 15 people, so yor have to stay where you land. Now that was´nt the problem I´ve travelled in crowded buses,trains,planes, all over the world. The scary part was the on board service which consisted of joints and beer being shared by the passengers, so the gentleman on my right was smoking one, along with the chap on my right and the guy in front of me, which left me with little breathable air, besides that there was a 1litre bottle of beer being passed around.
The conversation ranged from, places where you can buy weed to the stations to watch out for cops with dogs.
This were the conditions for the hour long ride, so I decided to elbow my way towards the open sliding doors on the side, under pain of falling off, to catch some fresh air. Fortunately a couple of stops later  the Furgon was practically empty.
Now do´nt get me wrong, the people at the Furgon were working folk, and very friendly and solidary, and if  you ride on the passenger section of the train you can sit and enjoy the view. all this for around 15 cents American.
I thought I´d share this just so  that next time you complain bout your suffering on your daily trip to work, you know what others go through.

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