Sunday, 3 August 2014

Bussing it from Tarija to Sucre

Our overnight bus ride (anything between 9 and 15 hours depending on what you believe) begins with some minor problems - Tarija is too far off the main trail to be serviced by the mythical "full cama" buses that we've heard such great things about.

As we walk out of the door of the bus station to head for our bus, we're stopped in our tracks by a lady who clearly lacks any joy in her life demanding our "terminal tax". It's a bit like the taxes you pay when you book a flight, except they aren't included in the price of your bus ticket - the amount is usually very small, but serves only to delay you as you are usually attempting to push back against people who think it's cool to push through you, in a bid to get their luggage on to the bus first. Either way, it has to be paid, although my query of how much this tax will cost goes unheard as CP is in the middle of a meltdown.

There's only one company that does the route Tarija to Sucre in one journey, without changing buses in Potosi or somewhere else along the way. But when we booked our tickets we had an almost empty seating plan to choose from. Using our prior knowledge of these buses we opt for the upper deck, right at the front. Fail... the seats have half-size legroom and no overhead storage. However they do have an awesome view (which as it will be the middle of the night is a little pointless I have to admit), and I'm happy enough to stay put... CP on the other hand, makes it clear in no uncertain terms that she has to move. Immediately.

"How did this happen?" she asks me, referring to us choosing the (quote) "worst seats on the bus" when we could have had any of them.
"I honestly have no idea!" is my reply, referring to her transition from happy and joyful CP to crazed maniac in the space of 10 minutes.  

As the bus moves out of the station, it's barely half full, so it looks like we will have our pick afterall. Carefully selecting another pair of seats, it looks like we'll be ok, until CP discovers that the window next to her won't stay closed (a bit of fresh air could be nice, no...?), and the 20-something year old goons next to us are having a great time listening to the music on their phone... no headphones here though, as obviously the whole bus wants to listen to them flicking through the first 20 seconds of every track they have, all of them awful.

The bus ticket checking guy comes round about 10 minutes in, and notes that we are not where we should be... by now someone else has occupied our front row seats, so there's not much discussion to be had, or so we think - someone else is in our seat, but it's ok, we're fine here.

He repeats that we're in the wrong seats, which are reserved from some random town along the way, I repeat that someone's in our seats and he hasn't moved them so what does he want us to do... still no idea, but he moves on and leaves us to it.

It won't last though - unlike Colombia, where if you get this kind of bus from one place to another, that's where it goes, stopping only for the requisite snacks and ice creams, when you're on a bus in Bolivia, it feels like you stop at every town in between, and eventually someone appears with a ticket for the seat that I now occupy. There is a kid and, what I thought was his dad in our seats, and I'm not about to split them up, so I head off to a random part of the bus to find a seat, and wedge myself in.

It's a bad choice, as 2 minutes later CP is also obliged to move and so forced to kick the kids (there was no dad, but two little kids who looked very comfortable curled up asleep... Until they were woken up by CP) out from our original seats. By now I'm just annoyed - annoyed at the shit seat on this shit bus that I now have, which is wedged back in full recline. Annoyed at CP for her hissy fit when we first got on the bus which caused us to move seats in the first place. Annoyed at myself for being down for so much of the last couple of weeks when lots of people would happily trade their current circumstance for the incredible opportunity that we have. Really I think I'm just annoyed at Bolivia, and I can feel all the goodness from the last few days slipping away.

I decide that at the next stop (predictably it's the longest stint of the journey so far) I'm just going to have to boot the remaining kid out at take back my original seat next to CP.

If I'm going to be uncomfortable on a bus, then I'd rather be uncomfortable next to my fiancée. If someone's going to kick me in the middle of the night, then I'd rather it be my fiancée that kicks me than some random Bolivian. And if someone's going to wake me up with their snoring while all this is happening, then yes, I'd rather it be my... wait, CP, wtf?! No snoring! Anyway, none of that should come as a startling revelation - there is a reason why we are getting married after all! [CP here...I did not and do not snore! Unlike certain other people whose nose is so constantly blocked with crap, they have no choice, Duchemin!]

As it happens, the kids and their dad got off at the last stop, so I've been wedged in elsewhere for no reason. We are however, reunited, both now relaxed again, and on our way to Sucre. Sleep is not really an option...but at least the nighttime view of oncoming traffic on what could easily pass for the worlds most dangerous road keeps us entertained.

This had to be a separate post as apparently it's a bit negative (tbf I wasn't the one throwing my toys out of the pram on the bus...) and takes away from the fact that I'm enjoying life out here in Bolivia a bit more again! :0)

CP reply here, seems to be necessary in the circumstances! The bus seats we were given right up the front of the bus not only had no overhead storage space, and no leg space, but the area under the seats to store your stuff had no back to it and would simply fall down the stairs to the lower level, and/or be open to anyone coming up the stairs to steal out stuff whilst we were attempting to sleep. Storing anything there would have resulted in breakage or damage, 100% certainty! Plus, as there were plenty of spare seats on the bus, I saw no harm in moving to a seat, which may enable us to sleep a little during the next 10 hours and protect our belongings. I'd been rather excited about getting a good night's sleep in the best seats on the bus with the coolest view (as these seats had been in every other bus we'd been on), so my disappointment was inevitable. In the end, the bus ride was one of the worst yet and neither of us got any sleep...I guess we can't get good buses every time, but it was a shame to end such a great trip with a crappy bus ride, so this little bog entry serves only as a little vent!

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