My Second Huffpo article is up (Spoiler alert—> its a reworking of my previous post about packing):

Packing Lessons From South America

My Second Huffpo article is up (Spoiler alert—> its a reworking of my previous post about packing):

Packing Lessons From South America

I’m now a columnist for Lost Girls—check out my first post here:

4 Things I Didn’t Know About South American Bus Travel (But Wish I Had!)

I’m now a columnist for Lost Girls—check out my first post here:

4 Things I Didn’t Know About South American Bus Travel (But Wish I Had!)

Packing Recap    (pictured above with my two green bags and Travis’ one.)
After 149 days of traveling I’m finally returning to Nueva York. And after wearing the same four shirts and one pair of pants for five freaking months you can be certain I plan to burn every article of clothing in my pack.
The contents of my bag are a hell of a lot different from when I started so here’s what I’ve learned about packing for long trips. Some of the stuff in the MINUS category was deliberately left behind, other things were lost, stolen, or simply fell apart. The turning point was when I met up with Ben in Cartagena—he brought me some new clothing and took back my “annex bag” of souvenirs for others. No way I was carrying two hammocks around for another 2 months. 

My Pack, Day One
Weight: 13 Kilos
Contents: 20 articles of clothing (yet no cold weather clothes!), a towel, sleep sack, laundry bag, first aid kit, five books (including the massive lonely planet SA), a ton of magazines, toiletries, giant bottles of sunscreen, hiking shoes, casual shoes, 1 pair flip flops, hairdryer (wtf), and electronics (lappy, ipod, cam). 
 
My Pack, Halfway Through (Circa de Bolivia)
Weight: 15 Kilos
Contents:
Above PLUS 2 sweaters 2 tank tops, a scarf, two hats, two purses, thick socks, winter coat, jewelry, two watches, an extra tote bag for said purchases
MINUS two books, hairdryer, dress, jeans, toiletries and makeup, sleep sack, laundry bag

My Pack, Day 149
Weight: 17.9 kilos (!!!)
Contents:
Above PLUS three pairs boots (I know), one pair of sandals, four books, one jacket, 4 shirts, 1 pair pants, 1 pair tights, more jewelry, film camera 
MINUS other pair pants, other pair tights, flip flops (they fell apart), sunscreen, watches, shorts, several tank tops, most toiletries, Lonely planet, extra tote, winter clothing, cardigan, Toms shoes (they fell apart)
 
…….

Things I’m glad I packed: 
Basically, the best things I packed were a synthetic black camisole, black cardigan, and black yoga pants. They don’t show stains or fall apart, the cami and cardi weren’t too casual for going out, and the yoga pants were perfect for sleeping and hiking. Most importantly, since they’re basically polyester, they dried really quickly when I washed ‘em in hostel sinks. 
Also I’m happy I packed the hiking shoes even though I only wear ‘em every month or so, and they take up tons of space in my bag, and they smell like crap. For the big hikes, my Toms or little tennies just wouldn’t have cut it. 
I’m glad we didn’t rip apart our Lonely Planet as originally planned because we ended up going to four different countries not in the initial route. We kinda needed the Bolivia section, for example. 
Important item: headlamp—it was basically required on all of the hikes and helpful for rummaging through your shit in a dark hostel dorm. Also of utmost importance: my tiny little extra absorbent towel. By now it looks disgustingly musty (“suspicious” is the word one friend used) but it was important since a lot of hostels don’t supply towels.
Also, I had a packet of those facewash wipe things (like baby wipes but for your face not your butt) which were really nice for long bus rides. 
Things I wish I had packed:
Didn’t bring any “going out” clothing. In New York I think I dress pretty casually for hitting the bars (and I don’t really do clubs). But that doesn’t really translate everywhere in the world. Apparently, its frowned upon to show up to a club, on any continent, in flip flops and a cotton tank top. The flat black riding boots and “fancy tank tops” I bought in Brazil and Argentina were helpful for that. In the same vein, I wish I had packed a purse or slightly less backpacker-y day pack. It’s not really cool to tramp around a city carrying an army green hiking backpack (not to mention it screams “TARGET”), and while I didn’t mind carrying my money in my bra, I’m SO ready for that to end. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve found a bill stuck to the side of me, or trying to creep out of my shirt. Not to mention the nail salon incident. 
I wish I had gone the route Travis did with organization in his bag. I made myself 2 stuff sacks for my clothes, which worked okay, sometimes, depending on what was clean/dirty wet/dry etc., but he used these massive clear ziplock baggies which fit into his pack well, allowed him to see the contents and easily sort dirty/clean. I usually just stuffed dirty clothes into the bag wherever I could fit them, which translated to a trail of dirty socks and random things scattering behind me like Hansel and Gretel. 
Things I really didn’t need:
My Toms were super lightweight and comfy but they started falling apart after like a month. And they were too casual to wear at night time and too light to wear with socks/in the cold. A pair of flats would have been better. The Toms got so disgusting I was told by traveling mates that they didn’t want to be seen with someone wearing homeless person shoes.
 I never once used (unfortunately for the environment) my reusable tote bag because I never carried it around with me. We used a lot of plastic bags to carry valuables to throw off potential muggers. 
Also, rain jacket, sleep sack, hairdryer. 
Also, five books. Was better off with just one and hitting up book exchanges. 
Wicking underwear. They were weird and not comfortable. I’m not sure why Travis and I had the idea that we would really need these. 
Also, the jeans, dress, and button up shirt. They were of questionable quality and all fell apart within a month. 
So that’s the story of my stuff. I could barely keep track of it all; God help me when I emancipate the contents of my storage unit in New York. I’m tempted to throw a match in and forget all that crap ever existed. 

Packing Recap    (pictured above with my two green bags and Travis’ one.)

After 149 days of traveling I’m finally returning to Nueva York. And after wearing the same four shirts and one pair of pants for five freaking months you can be certain I plan to burn every article of clothing in my pack.

The contents of my bag are a hell of a lot different from when I started so here’s what I’ve learned about packing for long trips. Some of the stuff in the MINUS category was deliberately left behind, other things were lost, stolen, or simply fell apart. The turning point was when I met up with Ben in Cartagena—he brought me some new clothing and took back my “annex bag” of souvenirs for others. No way I was carrying two hammocks around for another 2 months. 

My Pack, Day One

Weight: 13 Kilos

Contents: 20 articles of clothing (yet no cold weather clothes!), a towel, sleep sack, laundry bag, first aid kit, five books (including the massive lonely planet SA), a ton of magazines, toiletries, giant bottles of sunscreen, hiking shoes, casual shoes, 1 pair flip flops, hairdryer (wtf), and electronics (lappy, ipod, cam). 

My Pack, Halfway Through (Circa de Bolivia)

Weight: 15 Kilos

Contents:

Above PLUS 2 sweaters 2 tank tops, a scarf, two hats, two purses, thick socks, winter coat, jewelry, two watches, an extra tote bag for said purchases

MINUS two books, hairdryer, dress, jeans, toiletries and makeup, sleep sack, laundry bag

My Pack, Day 149

Weight: 17.9 kilos (!!!)

Contents:

Above PLUS three pairs boots (I know), one pair of sandals, four books, one jacket, 4 shirts, 1 pair pants, 1 pair tights, more jewelry, film camera 

MINUS other pair pants, other pair tights, flip flops (they fell apart), sunscreen, watches, shorts, several tank tops, most toiletries, Lonely planet, extra tote, winter clothing, cardigan, Toms shoes (they fell apart)

…….

Things I’m glad I packed: 

  • Basically, the best things I packed were a synthetic black camisole, black cardigan, and black yoga pants. They don’t show stains or fall apart, the cami and cardi weren’t too casual for going out, and the yoga pants were perfect for sleeping and hiking. Most importantly, since they’re basically polyester, they dried really quickly when I washed ‘em in hostel sinks. 
  • Also I’m happy I packed the hiking shoes even though I only wear ‘em every month or so, and they take up tons of space in my bag, and they smell like crap. For the big hikes, my Toms or little tennies just wouldn’t have cut it. 
  • I’m glad we didn’t rip apart our Lonely Planet as originally planned because we ended up going to four different countries not in the initial route. We kinda needed the Bolivia section, for example. 
  • Important item: headlamp—it was basically required on all of the hikes and helpful for rummaging through your shit in a dark hostel dorm. Also of utmost importance: my tiny little extra absorbent towel. By now it looks disgustingly musty (“suspicious” is the word one friend used) but it was important since a lot of hostels don’t supply towels.
  • Also, I had a packet of those facewash wipe things (like baby wipes but for your face not your butt) which were really nice for long bus rides. 

Things I wish I had packed:

  • Didn’t bring any “going out” clothing. In New York I think I dress pretty casually for hitting the bars (and I don’t really do clubs). But that doesn’t really translate everywhere in the world. Apparently, its frowned upon to show up to a club, on any continent, in flip flops and a cotton tank top. The flat black riding boots and “fancy tank tops” I bought in Brazil and Argentina were helpful for that. In the same vein, I wish I had packed a purse or slightly less backpacker-y day pack. It’s not really cool to tramp around a city carrying an army green hiking backpack (not to mention it screams “TARGET”), and while I didn’t mind carrying my money in my bra, I’m SO ready for that to end. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve found a bill stuck to the side of me, or trying to creep out of my shirt. Not to mention the nail salon incident
  • I wish I had gone the route Travis did with organization in his bag. I made myself 2 stuff sacks for my clothes, which worked okay, sometimes, depending on what was clean/dirty wet/dry etc., but he used these massive clear ziplock baggies which fit into his pack well, allowed him to see the contents and easily sort dirty/clean. I usually just stuffed dirty clothes into the bag wherever I could fit them, which translated to a trail of dirty socks and random things scattering behind me like Hansel and Gretel. 

Things I really didn’t need:

  • My Toms were super lightweight and comfy but they started falling apart after like a month. And they were too casual to wear at night time and too light to wear with socks/in the cold. A pair of flats would have been better. The Toms got so disgusting I was told by traveling mates that they didn’t want to be seen with someone wearing homeless person shoes.
  •  I never once used (unfortunately for the environment) my reusable tote bag because I never carried it around with me. We used a lot of plastic bags to carry valuables to throw off potential muggers. 
  • Also, rain jacket, sleep sack, hairdryer
  • Also, five books. Was better off with just one and hitting up book exchanges. 
  • Wicking underwear. They were weird and not comfortable. I’m not sure why Travis and I had the idea that we would really need these. 
  • Also, the jeans, dress, and button up shirt. They were of questionable quality and all fell apart within a month. 

So that’s the story of my stuff. I could barely keep track of it all; God help me when I emancipate the contents of my storage unit in New York. I’m tempted to throw a match in and forget all that crap ever existed. 

With some 18-year-old Colombian soldiers toting AKs GALIL (my b, thanks joguic) no bigs. They asked us for cigarettes; they gotta be so bored up there in the Cuidad Perdida. A four day walk just to get to the office isn’t exactly a fun commute…
Either way I was maybe a little glad they were there considering this site was discovered by crazy Colombian looters not to mention we were in what used to be cocaine production territory (though now that, and the FARC, has been pretty much banished).
So actually our biggest fear was that our cook might not give us a piece of candy for dessert each night after dinner. 

With some 18-year-old Colombian soldiers toting AKs GALIL (my b, thanks joguic) no bigs. They asked us for cigarettes; they gotta be so bored up there in the Cuidad Perdida. A four day walk just to get to the office isn’t exactly a fun commute…

Either way I was maybe a little glad they were there considering this site was discovered by crazy Colombian looters not to mention we were in what used to be cocaine production territory (though now that, and the FARC, has been pretty much banished).

So actually our biggest fear was that our cook might not give us a piece of candy for dessert each night after dinner. 

This type of thing happened more regularly than I care to admit.

180 hours is a lot of time spent riding buses together, just saying. Sometimes a girl just feels flossy flossy, ok? 

LOS LISTS - OTHER (5 of 5)

In the name of Travis’ departure, we’ve compiled a series on our misadventures. It’s an exhaustive, self-indulgent, overly simplified analysis of practically everything we ever did, with no explanation or justification for our choices. 

Top Reactions to an Outfit Worn by Blair Waldorf, Serena Van Der Woodsen or Jenny Humphrey in the Six Episodes of Gossip Girl We Had on Travis’ iPhone:

1. What the Delta Burke is up with those shoulder pads, B?

2. Nice yarn-hair, Little J.

3. That sock of a dress isn’t going to get daddy to take you any more seriously, S.

4. Um, S? I can see your Upper East Siders. 

Top Four Theme Songs

1. G.L.A.M.O.R.O.U.S. - Fergie

2. Meet Me Halfway - The Black Eyed Peas

3. Alejandro - Lady Gaga

4. XXXO - MIA

Top Black Eyed Peas Song We Heard Involuntarily At Least 1,000,000,000 Times and Were Brainwashed into Maybe Not Totally Hating

1. Tengo Un Feeling

Top/Only Five Words We Learned in Portuguese

1. Cerveja (beer)

2. Lajy Gaga (Lady Gaga)

3. Obrigado (thank you)

4. Dois mais por favor (two more please)

5. Desculpe (excuse me/I’m sorry)

Top Movies Forced to Endure on Buses

1. Super Babies: Baby Geniuses 2

2. At least 10 Vin Diesel classics

3. Generic Harry Potter

Top Three Live Animals on Bus Rides

1. Chickens

2. Dogs

3. Caffeinated children

Top Adopted British Slang

Jumper - socket- reckon - twat - bin - the way forward (really)

Top Imparted American Slang

Douchebag - muffin top - drug lord

Coming soon:

  • Top 10 Times Erin States a Fact and Travis Responds with “Probably”
  • Top 10 Times Erin Cursed at Travis Under Her Breath
  • Top 85 Nights Travis Snored
  • Top 85 Mornings Erin complained about it
  • Top 978 Mozzie Bites
  • Top 50 Uses of “That’s what she said.”
  • Top 80 Cold Showers
  • Top 11 World Cup Games Watched
  • Top Times We Thought We Ordered a Salad and Got a Pile of Mystery Meat
  • Top Eight Times Erin Vomited from Eating Something Exotic and Suspicious-Looking
  • Top 20 Times We Felt Old
  • Top One Time We Felt Young (Black Sheep Hostel, Medellin)
  • Top Two Times Erin Used the Phrase “Calm Down”
  • Top One Time Travis Spelled Out the Consequences of Using Such a Phrase
  • Top Times Erin Accidentally Insulted People Who She Thought Couldn’t Hear Her and/or Understand English
  • Top 13 Times We Lost Our Dignity Doing Something Very Simple
  • Top 9 Times We Broke Something at a Hostel
  • Top Two Times We Were Awkwardly Forced to Share a Bed

LOS LISTS - HOSTELS (3 of 5)

In the name of Travis’ departure, we’ve compiled a series on our misadventures. It’s an exhaustive, self-indulgent, overly simplified analysis of practically everything we ever did, with no explanation or justification for our choices. 

Favorite Hostels (Erin)

1. Secret Garden Hostel in Quito 

2. Destino Nomada in Bogota

3. Rio Hostel in Rio

4. Laranjieras Hostel in Salvador

Favorite Hostels (Travis)

1. Destino Nomada in Bogota

2. Villa Madalena in Sau Paulo

3. Rio Hostel in Rio

4. Loki Cuzco because of the spaghetti and meatballs

Worst Hostels (Erin)

1. First night of the Salt Flats tour

2. Freezing $2 Isla del Sol shithole with broken windows and manual flush toilets

3. Artie’s Guesthouse because of its midnight curfew

Worst Hostels (Travis)

1. Hostal Real in Cartagena 

2. Hostal Real in Cartagena

3. Hostal Real in Cartagena

Top Hostel Breakfast

1. Secret Garden Hostel (Quito)

2. Rio Hostel grilled cheese

3. Loki pancakes

LOS LISTS - PLACES (1 of 5)

In the name of Travis’ departure, we’ve compiled a retrospective series on our misadventures. It’s an exhaustive, self-indulgent, overly simplified analysis of practically everything we ever did, with no explanation or justification for our choices. 

Christo Redentor

Cindy and Erin


Top Cities Visited (Erin)

1. Bogota

2. Rio

3. Cuzco

4. Sau Paulo

5. La Paz

6. Quito

7. Medellin

8. Salvador

9. Cartagena

10. Arequipa

11. Iguazu Falls

12. Lima

13. Uyuni

Top Cities Visited (Travis)

1. Bogota

2. Rio

3. Sau Paulo  (hi boys ;) )

4. Quito

5. Cuzco

6. La Paz

7. Medellin

8. Salvador

9. Lima

10. Cartagena

11. Arequipa

Our hostel in San Pedro de Atacama

Top Small Towns (Erin)

1. San Pedro

2. Lencois

3. Canoa

4. Morro de Sau Paulo

5. Huacachina

6. Isla del Sol

7. Copacabana

8. Agnes Calientes

9. Nazca

Top Towns (Travis)

1. San Pedro

2. Canoa

3. Lencois

4. Morro de Sau Paulo

5. Copacabana

6. Huacachina

7. Isla del Sol

8. Agnes Calientes

9. Nazca

Top Four Beaches

1. Ipanema

2. Canoa

3. Morro de Sau Paulo

4. Isla de Rosario

Top Three Bitches

1. That chick on our Machu Picchu hike

2. The woman in the bowler hat who almost killed Erin

3. The woman at Hostel Mirador who made us pay for toilet paper, among other bitch moves

 

Exhaustive, Self-Indulgent and Overly Simplified Lists of Things We Liked and Disliked

SA_photos_7_9_10 069

In the name of Travis’ departure, we’ve compiled a retrospective series on our misadventures. It’s for the fans really (all 3 of you, counting our moms). SO, are you ready for an exhaustive, self-indulgent, overly simplified analysis of practically everything we ever did, with no explanation or justification for our choices? Good!

GET READY. 

Update: Here they are:

List #1 Places

List #2 Experiences

List #3 Hostels

List #4 Food and Drink

List # 5 Other Stuff

 

Since my arrival in Colombia August 2, I have tossed back maybe 40 arepas. Damn these things are good. You can get them made of potato cake or corn cake; I think I prefer the corn. They’re filled with stringy mozzarella cheese and slathered with butter. 
Hello there you delicious delicious little gut bomb. 

Since my arrival in Colombia August 2, I have tossed back maybe 40 arepas. Damn these things are good. You can get them made of potato cake or corn cake; I think I prefer the corn. They’re filled with stringy mozzarella cheese and slathered with butter. 

Hello there you delicious delicious little gut bomb. 

I decided to warm up to video editing with a montage of favorite/most ridiculous clips from Travis and I`s summer in South America. I promise to make some more, uhm, informative videos in the coming weeks… For now, enjoy the ridiculousness!

South America. YEAH!

^^Boyz II Men - End of the Road

Remember this photo? 

3 months...

Travis posted it after our first week of traveling together and labeled it, “Three months.” As in, I gotta spend three whole months with this unstable-looking person.

Well, as of TOMORROW FREAKING MORNING our three months together will have come to a close (can you believe it?). First of all, Travis, I want to dedicate the above song to you. 

Second of all, loyal readers: Please do yourself a favor and watch the video through the end, lest your day will be without the following:

  • suspenders
  • blind person glasses
  • special needs (now known as “hipster”) glasses
  • sitting backwards on chairs
  • matching jean jackets
  • sepia camera effects
  • not particularly creative yet effective motions that accompany lyrics like “pain in my head,” “holding you tight” and “spinning around”
  • A spoken interlude where the guy with the deep voice spells it out for you. Further convincing as if you needed it: The interlude starts with “Girl, comma, you know we belong together”
  • a cane (also owned by the bass singer; he gets everything cool)
  • Four matching but different colored Gap rain jackets
  • a breakdown at the end where the music cuts out and the song is sustained on VOICES and CLAPPING ALONE. 
  • Lastly, as Youtube commenter Yokaintensiv sagely pointed out: “this is music…..i miss the old days when music is full of fealings, not like today if someone is using computerprograms to change the choice

So, Girl, comma. I gotta ask you. Why in the name of jesus christ himself would you ever deprive yourself, deprive yourself of these fealings, especially when they are just there for the taking?

I know why the caged bird squawks

Well today is a sick day, as I have contracted, for possibly the 80th time on this trip, a case of “the gastro.” That’s my new not-crass word for “raging diarrhea.” 

Anyhow.

I’m laid up in a Cartagena hostel resembles a mental institute. The air-conditioned room has ten metal bunk beds, no windows, a massively high ceiling and yellowing white walls with institutional green trim. The bedding matches with yellowing white sheets and institutional green pillow cases. There are mosquitoes hovering around every bed with a person in it. All but one of the buzzing, blinking florescent lights are off because some jackass is still sleeping at 2:30 in the afternoon. 

Outside there is a blazing hot courtyard with two vegetable-state senior citizens sleeping, or baking, rather, in wheelchairs. There’s a TV playing a Vin Diesel movie but its soundtrack is overpowered by the animals. Yes animals. Hostel Real has at least two turtles, two parrots, two dogs, a puppy, and possibly many other animals I’ve yet to interact with.  

The dogs will bark and fight and the turtles mostly just walk around faster than any turtle I’ve ever seen, but the parrots. Ohhhh the parrots. Those little bastards have been screaming bloody freaking murder for the past 6 hours. They sound kindof like the screamer in that Pink Floyd song off of Dark Side of the Moon, the one that plays during the tornado if you sync it up to Wizard of Oz. It’s a weird, high pitched singing sound that occasionally flys off the rails into horrifying screaming. Is someone dying out there? Is there a rape? A mugging? Who is being tortured?

Oh right. It’s the parrots, chilling in their cages. Probably just wanting to fly or do other parrot things they are meant to do.

By the way, why do people have birds as pets? As of today I think its a shitty idea, and also, I hate parrots. 

Cartagena de Indias (That’s Spanish for Cartagena of the Indies guys)
Travis and I took our last overnight bus together from Medellin to Cartagena. It was an emotional journey. Because they played a Vin Diesel movie and man can that guy act. Ha.
Anyhow it is HOT AS HELL here. 
And it’s kinda touristy. We can’t walk down the street without being harassed to buy sunglasses or ugly necklaces or various other whathaveyou. Colombians are nothing if not hustlers. 
It’s also beautiful and old and mossy and dirty and romantic and did i mention HOT AS HELL and the seafood is excellent. Photo above (and more to come) by Ben, who visited me on the would-be end / now-middle of my trip. 

Cartagena de Indias (That’s Spanish for Cartagena of the Indies guys)

Travis and I took our last overnight bus together from Medellin to Cartagena. It was an emotional journey. Because they played a Vin Diesel movie and man can that guy act. Ha.

Anyhow it is HOT AS HELL here. 

And it’s kinda touristy. We can’t walk down the street without being harassed to buy sunglasses or ugly necklaces or various other whathaveyou. Colombians are nothing if not hustlers. 

It’s also beautiful and old and mossy and dirty and romantic and did i mention HOT AS HELL and the seafood is excellent. Photo above (and more to come) by Ben, who visited me on the would-be end / now-middle of my trip. 

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.

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.