On what you learn when everything goes wrong

Avery Haugen
July 11, 2016

These are a few thoughts on what I learned from traveling gone all kinds of wrong.

This past weekend, my same two Atacama girls and I set out on a three day trip to Mendoza. Without boring you too much on the preliminary details, we had a 9 am bus ticket that turned out to be a misprint for a 9:30 departure. Red flag number one? However, we blissfully spent our extra minutes stocking up on snacks and treats for the upcoming 8 hour bus ride. Shortly thereafter, we boarded our bus and made it across the Andes mountains to our beautiful Argentinian destination.

Fast forward 36 hours. I’m going to let you in on an insider tip: the weather plays a critical part in international bus travel. No matter how badly you want to get somewhere—and I’m talking 5 buses, three separate tickets all for the same destination, multiple taxis and tears—the weather is the ultimate gatekeeper of the mountain pass. Eventually, you have to resign yourself to the beauty of waiting and hoping, even if it’s all you can do to keep from having a melt down. *cue nervous laughing*

So begins the long journey home. Forecasted rain did not appear to affect the bus routes when we left our hostel Sunday morning for a coffee shop breakfast. Once noon began approaching, we set out from Ferruccio Soppelsa with full bellies and determined intentions of finding a taxi on our walk to the bus terminal. (Note: the terminal was 5+ miles away so I’m unclear why we decided this was a good plan at the time.) After 30 minutes and nearly a mile of jumping, running, and panicking, we caught a cab. Teary eyed and relieved, we made it to the station for our 1:30 bus at 1:04 pm. 

Lesson in humility #1: You may think “1:04 is plenty of time for the 1:30 bus” but the universe may laugh in your face and retort “they printed the wrong time, your bus already left at 1.” What?! How is that even possible? Red flag number two, the odds were clearly not in our favor. Horrified, we bought a new ticket after being told we would not get a refund. Upon boarding our new, 15 person, unheated, bathroom-less bus with high hopes and tired eyes, we delighted in the end of our travel adversity.

Lesson in humility #2: Don’t count your chickens before they hatch. Or rather, don’t assume you are headed home until you actually make it home. The weather had other plans for us as the driver of our bus pulled one of the more impressive U-turns of my life after an hour into the drive after being alerted that the pass had just shut down. Back to Mendoza we went, disappointed but hopeful for our rescheduled departure at 7:30 the following morning.

Lesson in humility #3: As motivated as you may be to wake up early and arrive 45 minutes before your scheduled departure time, there is no guarantee a bus will be there. No bus, no problem, right? More like no bus, HUGE problem. But after an hour, like a beacon in the morning darkness, our rickety bus rolled in to gate 19 like the little train that could. We boarded that bus like our lives depended on it and nestled into the seats for a much awaited nap. 

Lesson in humility #4: You may be on the bus, but it may very well break down before you get out of the parking lot. Okay people, is this a joke? It had been less than 5 minutes after pulling out of the gate that we came to a halt in the lot. The engine had failed and doomed us to yet another re-ticketing and re-boarding experience. Panic?! No, we surpassed that 2 buses ago. It was at this point that I mastered the art of laugh-crying. We unquestionably were going to be late to Monday afternoon class and that was just going to have to be okay.

Eight hours later, after a harrowing ground transportation expedition, what is my takeaway? The number one blatant answer is friendship. Yes, it’s true. Before May 25th, these two wonderful and beautiful people were complete strangers to me. Now, we have shared countless life stories, including but not limited to: dating, family, career goals, self reflection, and good old fashioned embarrassing moments to pass time on a never-ending bus ride. With good people by your side, even the most distressing circumstances can result in sweet memories and entertaining adventures. The number two answer is my own redefinition of home. Technically my home is in Dallas. And Fort Worth. But now, I add Santiago to my list. I have a family here with whom I sit down to dinner each night and recount the happenings of my day, the latest news, and share a cup of tea. It only took 30 hours of trying so hard to get back here to realize how closely I hold it to my heart, and for that, those 30 hours were well worth it. 

For traveling, close friends, and family here in Santiago, I count my blessings to be where I am.




Avery Haugen

<p>Hi everyone! Welcome to the adventure of a lifetime with me in Santiago, Chile! I am a biochemistry and Spanish double major from Dallas, Texas who loves horseback riding and playing polo. I also love plane rides, spending time outside, cooking (or at least attempting to), reading, trying new teas, petting animals, and watching old movies. I have traveled a lot in Spanish-speaking countries and pretty much nowhere else, currently working on a travel bucket list to at least 3 more continents.</p>

2016 Summer 1, 2016 Summer 2
Home University:
Texas Christian University
Biological Chemistry
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