My mistake?? And a long bus trip.
Jaen Travel Blog› entry 15 of 26 › view all entries
Today's blog starts at about 11:30pm yesterday (Saturday). I was able to get a short nap in, packed up all of my stuff, checked out of the hotel, and headed down to the Sol Peruano bus station. Upon reaching the station there were two busses waiting. I tried to figure out which one was mine, and after a short period of time I realized that my bus was not here.
I had purchased my ticket the yesterday at about 8am, and at that time I was very wary of the '12am' on the ticket. I even asked the agent 'en dieciséis horas?' (in 16 hours?) to make sure that it was midnight we were talking about. I checked into a hotel in order to have some refuge for the wait, and to prepare for another overnight trip. I checked in my travel spanish book for the translation of midnight (media-noche), and asked the bellman 'ésta es medianoche?' (this is midnight?), and he said yes.
I got back to the hotel, and embarrassingly tried to convey what had happened. I got back into my room, and got online to do some checking. 12am is by a very great margin considered to be midnight by most sources. Then again most of those sources are in english, as that is what I was looking up. I went out to find some food, and found a chifa (chinese restaurant) near the hotel. I ordered my food, and while I waited I saw a sign stating that their weekday closing time was 12am. I internally curse both myself, and the seemingly crazy (or at least different) system employed here in Peru.
I woke up, grabbed the complimentary breakfast, and headed for the bus station. The same guy that sold me the ticket was there, and I explained, as well as I could, what had happened. He reluctantly re-issued my ticket for today. Thankfully the route ran both Saturday and Sunday, contrary to what the old german language tour book had said.
A long distance bus requires a bit of planning. There are bathroom facilities on board, but you really do not want to use them. The worst case scenario would be, having to use them for some serious business, or repeatedly. I have had very good luck on this trip health-wise. I have had previous bouts of 'traveller's distress' on other trips, but I believe I have built up my immune system but eating whatever I want. My system has seen so many questionable street food items enter the area, that I am sure there is a perimeter set up by now. Even so, make sure to carry toilet paper with you at all times! Very rarely is any provided in this region.
The bus leaves at about 1:15pm. I am next to an older (50's) Peruvian woman in the front row of the lower deck of the bus. As soon as we start moving, any hope that this bus is air conditioned go by the wayside. The only window provided is a small 18" x 12" one propped open a bout 18" over my head. The mechanism is old, and when we get up to speed it rattles and bangs rather loudly. It's design is also very inefficient in conveying outside air into the bus. Most of the comfy positions I achieve on the bus involve me using my left hand to do a combination air-diversion/window-quieting maneuver.
The temperature on the bus, is actually not so bad. I have had much worse anyway. And the front seat gives much more room for my knees, and no seat reclining in front of you really increases the amount of moving-around room. Unfortunately, there is none of that stretch-your-legs-out-underneath-the-seat-in-front-of-you space. I intermittantly am able to stretch them out on the wall, thinking all the while how ridiculous this must look to everybody else. In any case, being 6'1" on one of these busses is no help.
Our first stop is in Jaen at about 8:30pm. I am pleased that the bus does not seem to be stopping alot. It is a bit cooler here, as we have been going up for most of the trip so far. I hit the bus station facilities for about 15 cents, and look for some food. I settle on street food. There is a popular fried chicken and french fry place a block from the station, and I grab a coke as well. Under a buck for dinner sounds good to me, and the fries are homemade and delicious. Still hungry I grab some ice cream across the street before getting back on the bus.
The next stop is in Moyobamba at about 3am. It's a shorter stop, and I don't see any restrooms. So I do what most other males are doing and use an adjacent parking lot. When in Rome... Saved myself 15 cents anyway. I am actually able to sleep for a while on the rest of the trip. Probably because the temperature has come down enough to make comfort seem possible. At one point I did see a hand creep up from the seat behind me in, what I'm guessing is, an attempt to close the window (or quiet it). I make a point to keep my hand up there for the rest of the trip. Defense! Defense!
We arrived in Tarapoto at about 7:30am. Wow, that's actually 18 hours and 15 minutes. I hadn't calculated that out yet. There was a swarm of people centering on the luggage area of the bus. There were passengers looking for checked baggage, and people waiting to pick up shipped freight. Most annoyingly, there were moto-taxi drivers clogging up the works. As soon as we pulled in they centered on me, the only gringo onboard. They were fighting for position outside the window trying to get my attention. I rolled over and waited until everybody was off the bus, but they were still there when I got off.
I was one of the last passengers to ask for my backpack, so I could see exactly where it was. I pointed it out to the attendant, and showed my ticket. He looked for the ticket stapled to the bag and was unable to find it. I showed him where it was, but it was not there. Only the staple remained, as it must have fallen of in transit. I remembered my combination lock was on my bag, so I showed the attendant that I knew the combination. Satisfied he handed it over. I passed through the swarm of drivers on my way to situating my bag for the walk into town. There was one driver waiting patiently in his moto. I looked at him, and he told me it was 30 blocks into town. He offered one sol (33 cents) for the ride, and I agreed. I always like to not reward the overly-aggresive. Not like it will change anything.
Today I get to attempt to change my flight ticket. At least this one is my fault. What is spanish for dumb-ass again?