Rutas del Sol has got to be one of the worst bus companies out there. I used it as it was one of the only bus companies that goes from Montevideo to Cabo Polonio, Uruguay. Trying to take advantage of one of the various holidays in Argentina, I decided to meet some friends at the beach in Cabo Polonio for the 4 day weekend.
When I went to buy my ticket at the bus terminal in Montevideo at 8 am, however, everything was already booked except for the 3:15pm bus. The only catch was that there were no seats left, and I would have to stand for the 4.5 hour bus ride from Montevideo to Cabo Polonio. Since I didn’t have many other options and I had limited time, I decided to go for it. Even though I didn’t have a seat, I was still charged the same amount, $400 URU or about $20USD. When I got on the bus, I went straight to the back and found a spot to sit on the floor in between the bathroom and the trash can. Some people were not so “lucky” and did not even have enough space to sit down. 4.5 long hours later I finally arrived in Cabo Polonio, with a terrible backache. When I got off the bus and went to get my luggage from the compartment underneath, baggage ticket in hand, the driver told me that “it wasn’t there”. What do you mean it’s not there? I asked. “It’s not here. Someone else must have already taken it” he informed me. What do you mean someone else took it if I have the ticket?! I shot back. We went back and forth like this for a few minutes as he tried to convince me to go on my way without my luggage as if it were no big deal. I told him I was not going anywhere without my bag and that all my money and my passport were inside (which was not technically true but pretty close to the truth). He refused to look in the other compartment to see if my luggage had been mistakenly put in with the luggage of the passengers going to Valizas (the next beach town over from Cabo Polonio). He finally told me to go to Valizas and file a complaint, so I reluctantly got back on the bus and went to Valizas.
When I arrived in Valizas a short bus ride later and the driver began to empty the luggage from the other compartment, there was my bag. When I pointed this out to the driver, he became very defensive and snapped at me, “this is not my fault! This is your fault!” I ignored him and took my bag. I asked him how I was to get back to Cabo Polonio and was told that I had to wait for the next bus which was scheduled to come in an hour. I waited for almost two and a half hours but still the bus had not arrived. By this time it had gotten dark and started to rain. I asked various times when the bus was coming and I kept getting the same response, “it should be here any minute”. Finally after 3 hours of waiting in the rain, the bus finally came. When we got to Cabo Polonio however, it was pouring rain, thundering and lightning. In order to enter Cabo Polonio, you have to taken by a giant 4×4 because of it’s terrain. The driver told me that the jeeps had stopped running due to the storm and I wouldn’t be able to enter so he drove right by Cabo Polonio without even stopping. Some people on the bus overheard my conversation with the driver and recommended that I stay on the bus and get off at the next town, La Paloma and told I could stay with them in their house. There was also a couple from Argentina that also offered to let me stay the night at their place. Since I didn’t have a lot of options, I decided to stay with the couple (they had an extra room) for the night in La Paloma. The couple ended up being very nice and helpful, they took me out and showed me around, and even bought me dinner.
The next day, I went back to the bus terminal and tried once again to go to Cabo Polonio. This time my efforts were a success but I had lost an entire day of my trip due to the incompetence of staff of Rutas del Sol. Cabo Polonio was beautiful, even though it rained the majority of the time I was there so I could not enjoy the beach. On my way back to Montevideo, I got my ticket early enough so I was able to get a seat, many other people, however, were not so lucky. There were about three times as many people standing this time so there was not even enough space to sit down on the floor. The bus driver made various stops and continued to try and cram more people on the already crowded bus as people shouted in protest about how inhumane it was to allow people to travel in such conditions. 5 hours later we arrived in Buenos Aires, and I could safely say that I will never be traveling with Rutas del Sol EVER again.