Bus-ting our asses
Over the past 2 months Travis and I have logged almost 180 hours on buses. That´s seven full days. These don’t include city buses, tour buses, rides to the airport, etc. I’m talking about times we have shown up at a random crowded dirty station at 11 at night, loaded our shit onto a big coach and ridden till its tomorrow morning and we’re in a new city.
The best bus company is Cruz Del Sur in Peru. Buses in Brazil are respectable, in Bolivia they are a joke, and in Ecuador, they are a mixed bag.
I honestly haven’t minded the buses. Some of my best nights of sleep have happened on a bus ride; they have easily been more comfortable than many of our hostels.
Buses are, of course, responsible for several of my most miserable nights as well. There was the time we got lost, the time we accidentally left someone in the middle of the night in the middle of the desolate Brazilian countryside, the many, many times we’ve had our bags dumped out at 4am for “security purposes,” the bus that for no reason circled the same block 10 times, the stomach-churning curves and horrible “trails” (where “road” is too dignified a word), the forever permeating stench of piss for anyone seated near the bathroom, the clearly coked out drivers (we once witnessed a 3am fist-pumping singalong to “Barbie World” by two grown ass men), the snoring, the screaming children whose parents inconceivably fed them candy and soda at 11pm, the animals(!), the consistently late departures, the freezing air-con, especially when I was sunburnt and stupidly wore shorts and a tank top, the lack of personal space and unfortunate touching of thighs or forearms with a stranger, the awful, awful movies (e.g. Super Babies: Baby Geniuses 2), which are sometimes started up inexplicably at 1am, the never knowing if you are in Cuzco or if it’s the next stop….
But all that aside, most of the 180 hours we’ve spent on buses has been tolerable, often scenic, borderline enjoyable, usually amusing, and even, sometimes, comforting.
The overnight rides save you money on a hostel, and there’s something kindof wonderfully stressful about waking up and suddenly you’re in La Paz, or Arequipa, or San Pedro, and its morning, and you’re being jostled and numbers for baggage are being shouted out, you are surrounded by men yelling “TAXI?!?” in your face and it’s a new day, and you can groggily find a hostel, and you have that entire day ahead of you because its 6am, and if you leave town on another night bus the next day, you’ve spent two full days there, and in some towns thats enough, and in others, its enough to know you will someday return.