From the airport, I bought a bus ticket from a cute Mendoza girl to go to Retiro (the bus station). She was kind enough to lead me straight to the bus, so all I had to do was board.
The bus left us a block from Retiro,
and a kind old lady gave me directions in slow, but perfect English.
After gathering my bags, and with my camera out and ready to snap shots, I began walking.
As I approached the first light, the Retiro station came within sight.
A couple waiting for the traffic to clear noticed me as I approached.
In Spanish, the man told me to “hold my camera tight. The kids are quick.”
Great. Two steps into Buenos Aires, and I’m already singled out as a care-free, easy-target, traveler.
“There are a thousand eyes,” he added as he pointed to me. His girlfriend stares from behind.
Full of concern, I ask if I should put it away.
“No. Just hold it tight,” he replies.
The traffic stops.
“Muchas gracias,” I say as I step into the street toward Retiro.
He and his girlfriend smile back.
On the sidewalk in front of the bus station.
People are lined up single file on the right,
street vendors wall off the left.
All that remains is a 1.5 person wide gap,
and this is clogged with two lines of people traffic… going in opposite directions.
The person behind pushing the person ahead.
The person ahead, no choice but to push forward…
Unstoppable forward momentum.
No stops, just GO.
I hold my camera tight beneath my right bicep and chest.
My right hand, which is acting as barrier to a pickpocket, is also grasping the shoulder straps of my high-school sized backpack.
My left hand digs into my left pocket, where my cell phone and wallet reside.
My head turns 90 degrees to the left, then 90 degrees to the right…
I know, behind me, there is an agile man of about 30. I am catching glimpses of him, to be sure he’s not fiddling with my large travel backpack.
I am nervous.
I can feel that something bad will happen.
But suddenly, the sidewalk opens up.
My fears are relieved, as I find a corner to safely back into and re-asses my item carrying situation.
I stuff my camera into my high-school bag, and this gets slung in front of my chest.
In the Retiro station, I look around. A line bends right in front of me, leading to an information kiosk about 200 ft ahead. It is the same line that took up ¼ of the busy sidewalk, that I slipped through.
The line is not moving.
There are 3 or 4 more lines, each stretching off in a direction with no end in sight.
I shift my gaze deeper into the station.
There are only trains.
No roads, no busses.
I am in the wrong part of Retiro.