Im sitting on the dirt road outside my dirtier bus wondering, ´What the hell was I thinking?´ Its 2:30 pm, 28 hours into my bus ride that was supposed to be 18. My destination, La Paz, is nowhere in site. Literally or figuratively.
Seeing as my flight to Rurrenabaque from La Paz was so entertaining, I can barely remember why I opted to take the bus back.
Oh yeah, Im cheap. The flight cost about $90 and since I just changed my flight back to the US for a lovely $200 fee, a $90 flight seemed silly when I had the time to take the bus. Plus, it was only $10.
The bus was supposed to leave at 10:30 am and arrive in La Paz at 6:00 am the next morning. At 11:30 am, we were finally getting on the non-airconditioned, no bathroom, ´luxury´ bus. The bus was filled with Bolivians…lots of families surprisingly. The thought of taking a baby or even a child on an 18 hour bus sounded quite murderous to me, but Bolivians are tough.
The first part of the bus ride was fine. I saw some beautiful scenery and read my book. No, the roads werent paved so it was very very bumpy, but I dont really get car sick. We stopped for lunch and dinner along the way.
When the sun went down, reading was no longer an option. Bolivian buses definitely dont have lights. I settled in to get some sleep. Besides the sporadic crying of one baby and far too much public breast feeding, I didnt have many complaints. I would wake up and be in La Paz.
I woke up on and off throughout the night, noticing that the woman next to me had put her baby on the floor in the aisle of the bus. I guess she wanted to make sure her baby was fully exposed to dirt. Then there was the rain. Oh well, I just closed my window. Around 4:00 am, I realized that the bus was stopped. Then at about 6:00, the kids on the bus had woken up, so I did too.
The bus was still stopped. I realized at this point that it was extremely muddy outside. I ended up venturing out of the bus to find lots of Bolivians from my bus and the 6 buses behind us all slipping in mud and gossiping about the hold up.
From what I gathered, there had been mudslides and tractors were working to clear the roads. There was also a big cargo truck in front of us that was stuck in the mud.
After a few more hours of people getting on and off the bus to check out the mud (while stepping over the baby still asleep on the floor), we were finally able to make it through. But that wasnt the end of the road blockages. Every so often, our bus had to stop to allow the tractors to clear the road.
At 11:30 am, we pulled into a town for lunch. The driver announced we would be here until 2:00 pm because they wanted to try to sell the last few available seats on the bus.
No one was happy about this 2 and a half hour lunch break. I was getting dangerously close to finishing my book and had a feeling there was still a few more hours to go even through we were already 6 hours behind schedule. (Travel time 24 hours and counting)
The break wasnt too bad. I got to practice my Spanish. I learned all about agriculture in Bolivia and the cost of living. Bolivians also always ask my opinion of Obama. When I asked my toothless friend what he thought, he said he liked him cuz he was brown. Tall, dark, and handsome fetish? I get it.
We were all thrilled when we finally left until about an hour later when we came to another road block. Apparently, we were looking at a 4 hour wait. At this point, I got out, sat on the ground, and called Alex begging him to send a plane.
He sympathized and casually asked if this ordeal was worth the $80 in savings. Damnit.
We finally got to pass after two hours of waiting. I was banking that we would be home by 7:00. When we pulled into another town for a quick bathroom break at around 6:30, I figured we were close. I asked the driver and he said 2 hours. I took it like a bullet.
Two hours came and went. As we got nearer to La Paz, it kept getting colder and colder. Luckily after spending almost 30 hours with me, the 8 year old girl next to me cuddled up against me and shared her blanket. YES.
I was so impressed that none of the children complained. They didnt even have a gameboy or anything. US children would have gone completely wild.
We finally pulled into La Paz a little past 10:30 pm, delirious and dirty after 36 hours of travel. I needed a shower, a beer, and a bed in no particular order.