Friday, 11 September 2009

My first Bolivian bus, 3 September 2009

I don{t like to have expectations when I travel, but before I arrived I did have low expectations of the Bolivian bus service.

Just before I left the hostel and headed to the bus station to make my way to Sucre a Dutch couple told me that they had flown from Sucre to Santa Cruz because it is such a notoriously bad road. Dammit!

Oh well, it was booked, and let{s face it, I wouldnt be having a true Bolivian experience if I didnt risk my life on the buses.

I made my way to the bus station with three others from the hostel who were also on the same bus as me to Sucre. I have to say I was glad to have them there when it came to putting bags on the bus.

We arrived at the bus company office where we had to leave our bags. But of course none of us wanted to leave our bags unattended in a frantic Bolivian bus station. We stood together and didn{t take our eyes of the bags. When the first bag was picked up one of the guys ran to see where it was taken and to ensure it was actaully installed on the bus. It was all pretty crazy and I had no faith that my bag would still be there when I arrived in Sucre. Out of pure fear for losing my bag I physically locked my bag to the insides of the bus and hoped that no one would take bolt croppers to remove my bag.

Out of all the buses in the bus station this was actually the crappest bus going! It looked like it would fall to pieces... and there was no toilet! 17 hour journey!

I was quite impressed when I boarded to discover the seats had Koala Ears (you know the hard bits you get on airplane seats that are really handy to sleep on), however when I tested the seat recline and was not impressed. Thankfully i was sitting next to a skinny little lady and not one of the Big Bolivianos that were all over the rest of the bus. As I got comfy in my seat and looke dup to notice a tv at the front of the bus. Hmmm, not bad... but then I looked closely and noticed that the case for the tv was actually filled with bags... extra storage space!

As we set off a guy got on with a Doctors bag. Oh great I thought, just in case there are any fatalities on a dodgy Bolivian bus they give you a doctor. But this was not a doctor. This was a travelling salesman who spent 30minutes trying to convince his captive audience to buy Laxatives. It was hilarious. And after he had sold the Laxatives he produced Deep Heat-type stuff from his Doctors bag and started to flog that! Brilliant!

4 hours into the journey we made a toilet stop. It was pretty special. There were three toilets in the ladies, but only 2 were being used. That was until a big Boliviano mumma pushed her way forward and used the third cubicle. From then on the 3rd cubicle was in use. And when it came to my turn I had to use the third cubicle. This was when I discovered the third cubilce was not a toilet but a shower. I was in, and there was no going back, I couldn{t be the gringo who couldn{t do as the locals did. So there I was, weeing a shower cubicle. The floor was drenched so I closed my eyes and thought of England as I relieved my bursting bladder. I would have been grossed out by the damp floor of the shower, but the reality was that there was urine over all the floor, even in the cubicles with real toilets.

I got back on the bus and didnt drink another drop of liquid until I reached Sucre.

The bus arrived at about 9am in Sucre and the last few hours of the journey were beautiful. The mountainous scenery and blue sky was gorgeous.

In all, it hadn{t been the smoothest of journeys, but it hadent been as bad as I thought it would be. I managed to get about 7 hours sleep on the bus, on and off of course. And, as a bonus my bag was still there when I got off the bus!

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