Friday, February 29, 2008

The Dot Was Not What I Thought

My brief stay in Artigas is over and I'm heading into the interior of Uruguay. I need cash, but the bank doesn't open until 1:00 P.M. for some reason, so I watch a movie in my hotel room to burn time. After getting some cash, I head to the bus station and get a ticket for Biassini. Back at the hotel, I chill for a couple hours, then check out at around 4:00 P.M. I was supposed to be out of my room by 10:00 A.M., according to the attendant, so she charges me an extra fifty pesos—about two-and-a-half dollars.

My true destination is Tacuarembó, but I don't want to be a tourist, I want to be a traveler, so I pick a spot in the middle of the route and decide to stay a night there. I don't know what's in Biassini, but I'm pretty sure it's not a major tourist destination. It's not on a main highway, just a back road, and the dot on the map is pretty small.

Every so often, the bus stops in the middle of nowhere and someone gets on or off. At one stop, a young man wearing tennis shoes and jeans and carrying a backpack exits the bus and begins to walk down a dirt road. The road goes into the distance for miles. I don't see any house or building. At another stop, a motorcycle is waiting for the passenger. At yet another stop, a horse is the ride.

At this moment, I am struck with a brilliant idea. After spending the night in Biassini, I'll head out tomorrow for Tacuarembó, but instead of riding straight through, when the bus stops at some random remote location to pick up or drop off a passenger, I'll ask the people exiting the bus if there's a hotel there. If I hear a "sí," I'll grab my stuff, stay in a quaint little town in the outback of Uruguay and see what this place is all about. Maybe I'll even meet a gaucho and get to ride a horse. I'm pretty fired up about this idea. No tourism for me.

After a few hours of travel on rough roads through beautiful, rolling countryside, the bus pulls off the road and the bus driver opens the door which separates his cabin from the passenger compartment. He looks at me and asks "Biassini?" along with a few other words I don't understand. I ask "¿Estamos en Biassini?" More words I don't understand along with "Biassini" again. I grab my camera bag, stand up, and walk forward.

As I look out the door into the toasty Uruguayan air, I notice a small building—more like a shack, really. I don't see much else. At this point, I ask if there is a hotel here. The bus driver says all kinds of things I don't understand. I look at him with a blank look on my face. More stuff I don't understand. I tell him that I need a hotel. Apparently, it doesn't occur to him that, when the tourist—er, traveler—doesn't understand what he is saying, he might speak more slowly and use smaller words, as he just keeps saying a bunch of stuff that merely serves to confuse me slightly. The blank look on my face remains.

Eventually, I come to the conclusion that Biassini is Podunk. The bus driver corrects me. "Biassini is the freaking capitol of Podunk." I get the picture. No hotel here. I'll have to take the bus to the end of its route—Salto. Salto is the second largest city in Uruguay, next to Montevideo, with a population of just under 100,000. I'll spend two nights there and take the next bus to Tacuarembó, which departs on Wednesday.

The moral of the story is this: just because there is a dot on the map doesn't mean there is something there. The only reason there is a dot on my map with the word Biassini next to it is because that's the place where two roads intersect. From here on out, no assumptions about dots on maps.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the laugh - - "assumptions about dots"...I'll keep that in mind for airports too :=) Stay safe.

Anonymous said...

It's about time you blog again! Jill and I thought you had bit the dust! Why does it take so long for the blogging to show up? Or is it just because you were not near a place with a connecton?
RRD (Jill's friend)

Jay said...

Hey, RRD.

Your guess is correct. I write the blogs on my laptop using Windows Live Writer, then save it to the hard drive. I may post it at that time or at any later date if I don't have Internet at the time.

I've been having issues with my laptop connecting to the Internet, so that just makes matters worse, besides not all locations having Internet.

Thanks for the concern! :)


Anonymous said...

Oy! It's another Monte Python moment. Dunno if you ever saw "The Rutles", which was Eric Idle's mockumentary ode to the Beatles.

There's a tribute to (or lampoon of) the movie "Yellow Submarine" that involves a cartoon character who starts to rip down pieces of the scenery until all that was left was the cartoon character against a white background. Then he walks off (which is supposed to get some kind on an intellectualized-existentialist laugh)...

This story for some reason reminds me of that scene, at least if one were not careful. Bon chance, and don't get left in the wild!