Sunday, September 4, 2011

Bus Trip Blues

In recent times buses have been the bane of my existence. However, like every traveller on a tight budget, they´re pretty much your only option of transport.

While goats, lambs, chickens and dogs on buses appear unusual to the Western eye, they are generally not a problem - they just chill out and enjoy the ride. It´s the people that have eventually gotten to us. From a woman on a 40 hour bus ride stealing all of our food (Tengo hambre, tengo hambre..... Si, yo tambien!!!!). To children playing with our hair/clothes - or worse - constantly screaming. To families believing that 5 of them will fit in the 2 seats behind us (with their children kicking us in the back constantly for 12 hours). To everyone on the bus throwing up. The constant overcrowding with people leaning over us, using our heads as arm and bag rests. To people using our foot wells to store their excess of things. Slept on, leaned on, fallen on, buried, prodded, poked and in Bolivia, openly despised.

B summed it up well. Yes we know of personal space, we personally don´t believe in it.

My first solo bus ride this trip (Cusco to Arequipa), I was sat next to a Cholita and her young daughter - say maybe 9 months old, but it´s hard to tell. Flor her name was. Flor the baby may well be payback for when I cried for an entire plane flight. Having not slept (I decided it would be easier to go out all night than wake up at 4am for my bus), I was keen to get some sleep on my 10 hour journey. This idea was very much changed when Flor began wailing and didn´t stop for the next 2-3 hours. Her distraught mother tried everything she could for hours. Finally Flor settled and fell asleep. He head and hand resting on my knee (what personal space?). I knew at that moment there was no way I could move again until she woke up. Thank goodness I´d already peed.

Later on this bus trip I became the most uncomfortable I have been in a while. The cholitas things were all in my foot space. Her baby laying on top of said things so I couldn´t move my legs. The cholita decided this would be the perfect position in which to breast feed her dear Flor. So instead of moving the infant, she stuck her hand under my butt and leaned forward. Where she remained for the next 20 minutes. All I can say is, personal space what?

Luckily 8 hours into this journey I was rewarded for my surprising patience given the lack of sleep. She got off the bus and for the next 2 hours i had room to spread out.

Always looking for a silver lining


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