Patagonia Bus Marathon


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Traveling the 1400 miles from Ushuaia to Viedma took about 37 hours by bus. The first leg was especially slow given the four border posts (for the short stretch of the trip in Chilean territory) and the ferry ride over the Strait of Magellan. I took a couple hours to walk around Río Gallegos and stayed for one night in Comodoro Rivadavia to break up the rest of the trip. Traveling in coche cama, which includes food, drinks, and bed-like seats was a treat. I also enjoyed the expansive views of the pampas and seeing some guanacos.

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Buses of Na Luum Caj

Scheduled buses from Na Luûm Caj to Punta Gorda run only four days a week, departing at 3:00 and 3:30 AM so that vendors can set up their market stalls at sunrise. This schedule is still an improvement over twenty years ago, when the majority of Toledo’s villagers had to ride into town in the back of pickup trucks.

The main bus owner in Na Luûm Caj is Felix Choc. He operates the 3:30 AM departure using a 1994 Blue Bird All American that was retired from a school district in Arizona earlier this year. Choc also owns a 1988 Thomas/Ford conventional that made its way down from Illinois in 2003 and three older buses used for spare parts and scrap metal. Last year he sold a 1983 Thomas/Ford conventional, formerly Bus #26 in the fleet of Florida’s Duval County Public Schools, to his neighbor, Lucio Sho. Lucio, the brother of my host, now uses it to run the 3:00 AM departure.

Another highlight of my time in the village was an hour and a half long hike through the jungle to an old logging site. The holder of the logging title towed an old school bus up to the site and set it up as an overnight shelter for his workers.

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