Worst bus journey of my life


Now getting caught out by a bus driver, by stupidly screwing up my own date of birth whilst trying to blag a youth fare in my hometown made for a pretty embarassing ride to work, but doesn’t come even close to the horror show that unfolded en route to Cusco. We didn’t even opt for the cheapest ticket so we can’t blame ourselves for being cheapskates. We knew that we were in for a 16 hour journey from Ica to Cusco, we were ok with that. We mentally prepared ourselves for the long night journey with inevitable travel sickness around steep winding mountain roads and the altitude sickness that would ensue, but what happened on that fateful bus was beyond our expectations.
We were scheduled to leave at 8:30pm, which is preferable because I always manage to sleep on a nightbus, or any bus for that matter. But quelle surprise it arrived late and left the terminal over an hour late, so we knew we were already at least one hour behind schedule. Something you budget time for in these situations so no biggy. Now I normally suffer horrendously with travel sickness but the tablets I bought in Mexico work a treat. I thought they’d just be a placebo to mentally convince me out of throwing up, but they really do the trick. Sadly the other people around us didn’t have such supplies, particularly the kids who were sick in their laps whilst asleep, causing all their parents to request my dwindling tablets. Great start.
We then realised that we had been stood still for some time in the dawn mountainous mist. We had only made it to the foothills when we joined a line of traffic backed up behind a truck that had broken down diagonally across the bridge ahead. Clever drivers as Peruvian’s are, deemed it necessary to overtake and fill the oncoming lane, meaning that both lanes were backed up on either side of the bridge, making recovery nearly impossible. So we waited there for sevaral hours until everything had manouvered nicely and we could pass.
Fine, we could deal with that little mishap, whatsmore the slow ascent was helping us to slowly adjust to the altitude. We stopped for a rest in what seemed to be a cock fighting ring due to the dead chickens laying everywhere and one monstorous cockerel that was pecking the living daylights out of every living creature in its path. We bolted some food down after elbowing our way through the crowd and restored our sanity, to brace ourselves for the next leg of the journey.
We got back on the bus in the hope that we would make it up to Cusco by late evening. Fat chance. Why? Because the same situation unfolded yet again. This time it was a landslide and people were trying to clear the road of mud as best they could. This caused another lengthy stop, the bus was hotter than the sun because it was so stuffy from all the sleeping passengers. Those that could sleep that is, the constant watch alarm blaring at 10 minute intervals and the screaming children interrupted whatever minimal sleep was possible.  I had to tell a couple of kids several times to sit down and shut the hell up in my broken Spanish,  as apparently it is beyond any parent’s ability to control their feral offspring.
The bus pulled away again after several hours and we continued on our never ending path. We woke up finally in the bus terminal, only to learn that we had taken a detour to another town, and it would be another unordinate number of hours until we finally reached our destination. When we did, at 3:30am in the freezing cold, altitude adjusting confusion we learned quickly that nothing was open, including hostels, so we found the only place we could in the wee hours next to a bus station, which was obviously a brothel. We laughed in our hysteria whilst signing in at reception as a lady of the night loudly welcomed us with noises of pleasure in the room above. The hospedaje was horrific but cheap, and after a journey of over 30 hours, twice the proposed length, we knew that we  could sleep through a nuclear holocaust. The ordeal was nearly over we just needed to leave at the crack of dawn and let the excitement of heading to the Sacred Valley over power any sleep deprived suicidal thoughts. We made it and lived to tell the tale, and to spread the advice that if you ever find yourself contemplating a lengthy bus through the Andes in the rainy season and your budget permits flying, take the more expensive option. Go on, treat yourself!


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