¡Vámonos! — Not Your Usual Transportation in Latin America

part of the BootsnAll Indie Travel Challenge Project

For week 14 of the Indie Travel Challenge, we want to hear your best Latin America transportation stories – and you get to decide what “best” means. Whether you were served champagne on an overnight bus ride or feared for your life as you biked along a dodgy trail on a steep cliff, we want to hear about it! Pictures are, of course, encouraged.


i don’t have a lot of central/south america travel under my belt — just the two countries below, but each trip had its own special “out and about” experience.

ATVing Around Puerto Vallarta

Posing in San Sebastián after riding down those dirty and dusty trails

in 2008, a bunch of us went to puerto vallarta, and my brother and cousin, who had gone ATVing in the greek isles, wanted to go out for a ride again. none of the other four of us had even been before, but i was totally game.  not ones to half-ass anything, we chose an intermediate level tour that had previous experience riding an ATV as a prerequisite. i can’t in good conscience recommend doing this, since they impose such requirements for a reason, but we put on our game faces and faked it until we made it.

we signed our lives away, got a quick introduction to how to to work an ATV, and were off! it was quite jerky pulling out of the ATV offices but i think we managed quite well (no [hard] crashes). the leader took us through the sierra madre mountains until we got to the tiny town of san sebastián del oeste (and the four of us n00bs, being uhh, complete n00bs, failed exquisitely in the tougher parts; he had to drive our vehicles for us several times). by now, i think he caught on that we probably would have taken forever to go off-road back to PV (we were already an hour or two late arriving in sebastián for lunch), so we took the highway instead. i don’t remember why, but i was hecka scared; i kept thinking i was going to lose control of my ATV and go plummeting off the side of the winding mountain road. i would have felt better going over dusty and rocky backcountry terrain!

on the way to san sebastián we stopped by a small ranch house to use the facilities and get some refreshments. there were no inhabitants except for a bunch of poultry — i’d never been so close to (live) fowl before!

we finally made it back (despite my starting to get a flat tire, but by this point we were in town already), and i loved it so much i went on another ATV ride in cambodia last year.

Subway Line A, Buenos Aires

i am a public transportation, especially subway, fanatic. i had read that there were vintage subway cars on línea A of the subte, and yes, i took a ride to nowhere and back  just to ride in them. i mean, really. wood interiors? subdued lighting? manual doors? you could just hear some old-timey jazz music playing! heritage cars ftw.

Riding in a La Brugeoise car

they are the oldest running metro cars in commercial service, dating back to the subway’s opening in 1913. unfortunately, research also shows that these la brugeoise cars are starting to be phased out of service, so get your ride on while you can! (if not, i found a video on youtube.)

Street Art in Buenos Aires

a sequence of events:

  • a friend on twitter mentioned that Evita was coming back to broadway
  • made me watch my favorite clip from the film (yes, i think madonna did a fine job, in case you were wondering)
  • seeing them tango in that youtube video brought back memories of learning and trying to tango at a gay milonga during my trip to Buenos Aires the summer (their winter; so cold!) of 2010
  • i sometimes forget that i was fortunate enough to go to BsAs for work (and extend it a little) since i don’t have pictures up on Flickr — they’re on facebook — which serves as my main travel memory
  • looking through that photo album, i realized i absolutely did forget about  the great street art scene there, which i wouldn’t have discovered if i didn’t try have dinner at 7 (thus necessitating a walk around town until ithe restaurant opened).

this last work (not sure if the phrase was part of the original or not) was one of many gay-marriage-themed pieces around the city (down to stickers on payphones) having to do with the gay marriage law that was before legislature (which passed while i was there — super cool to be present for that!).

and, no talk of art and buenos aires can be complete without mentioning the Puente de la Mujer by my favorite architect, Santiago Calatrava. a must-see (and walk) for me while i was there!