The constant hum of the bus tires was like a lullaby that attempted to lull me back to sleep.
Outside the window, there was a sea of black for the entire night and rarely punctuated with any kind of light. When the morning sun pushed away the darkness, as far as the eye could see was endless scrub.
No towns, no farmhouses, nothing but a fence line running parallel to the road and brown short scrubby bushes. It reminded me of eastern Colorado or Wyoming, except it was more open, less populated and flatter.
Eastern Argentina sits in the rain shadow created by the Andean Mountains. The fertile pampas found further inland escaped me as I headed straight south along the Atlantic coast.
I was happy the 18-hour bus ride had come to an end.
As I stepped off the bus in the city of Puerto Madryn, a voice in the crowd said, “Dean Jacobs.”
I wasn’t expecting to be picked up; my instructions were to go to an office and ask for Claudia Hume.
“Yes, my work finished early, so I decided to meet you at the bus station,” she said. Hume was a relative of my friend, Peter Duggan, with whom I had just spent the last week in Buenos Aires. Duggan had contacted Hume and told her I was traveling to Puerto Madryn.
It’s always nice to be welcomed to an unfamiliar place. It takes away a little of the tension of trying to figure out the most basic things, like which way to walk out of the bus station.
“Let’s go. I’m going to teach you how to use the bus system,” Hume said as she handed me a bus ticket.
“You can either stay at a hostel or stay with me. I have a little garden shack that has a bed. It’s not much, but you are welcome to it.”
“I’ll gladly accept your offer,” I replied.
Hume’s home would become my base for the next week. A big gift is that she speaks fluent English, works as a tourist guide and would be able to offer suggestions on what to do. More importantly, it was a chance to share a moment of daily life with an Argentinian.
Hume’s life is worthy of a book. She was a former flight attendant, had a commercial pilot’s license and had taken in 10 street children to raise on her own. I enjoyed listening to her stories as much as creating my own.
“I suggest you go swim with the southern sea lions,” Hume said.