Journey from hell
Rurrenabaque Travel Blog› entry 55 of 74 › view all entries
In the morning I saw Gabby at breakfast as I came in, but by the time I went to grab my tea she had left without saying anything to me, once again I'm not sure maliciously or simply being spacey for her lack of attention. Next was the bus. The La Paz- Rurrenabaque bus is supposed to be one of the worst around, and I was recommended more than once to fly. However, the flight was 75 usd and the bus 12, and I had already wussed out and flown to and fro Lima-Cusco, so I figured I´d give it a go. "How bad can it be?" I thought, secure in my newly developed patience for long crappy buses. Well, I can tell you, at the time of this writing I have already booked my flight ticket back. It is truly one horrible ride.
There´s one popular activity frequently booked out from La Paz of "the worlds most dangerous road" where thrill seekers bike down the steep cliff-hugging dirt track littered with huge trucks. Thinking that it sounded horrible and not seeing any fun in it at all, I decidedly skipped this activity. However, little did I know, the Pa Paz-Rurre bus takes part of this same route and instead of a few hours on bike and a free tee shirt at the end, I got an even more dangerous version of relying soley on the bus drivers skills while we drove, quite literally, inches from death. The dirt road clipped the side of a steep nearly 90 degree cliff, and isn´t big enough for two trucks at the same time, which naturally happens all the time. The bus therefore reverses as close as it can to the edge of the cliff to let the other through, and the road isn´t even visible out of the bus window anymore. Instead your staring straight down at treetops, and images of the dirt track giving out under one of the massive bus wheels fill your head, followed by your bus turning over and over as it rolls down the cliff side. That´s the external scenery, stunningly beautiful but excruciatingly scary.
The inside of the bus is old, worn out, bathroomless, crowded, loud, and full of bouncy children, restless during the 20 hour ride. To begin this fabulous journey I arrived, as requested, 30 mins early and the bus, as I should have known, left 30 mins late. Actually, it left, went 3 meters, and then collided with the electricity wires over the street as it had so much crap on top. Wires snapped and sparks flew, and I figured we´d all have to file off while a police report was filed, maybe even a new bus, etc etc. Instead we paused for about a minute, blocking all the traffic, and were on our way again. Unfortunately our way took us half a block up, where we sat for a further 30 minutes, loading the bus beyond capacity with locals, all of whom carried ridiculous amounts of cargo with them. One passenger brought a young puppy who whined loudly the whole trip, and I´m sure someone in the back had a bird of some sort, as every now and again I heard bizarre squawking coming from that direction. The worst though, were the kids. Now, don´t get me wrong, I understand kids aren't meant to sit quietly for 20 hours by nature, and I want my own someday and realize my little darlings will be just as rowdy. However, for us non parents who just want to survive a harrowing journey, kids are frankly a pain in the ass. I was surrounded: the one behind me kicked the metal bar below my seat repeatedly to hear the loud metallic "Bong", and frequently pulled out chunks of my hair as he bounced around and grabbed wildly with his grubby hands. The two in front of me started counting god knows what at 6 this morning, screaming at the top of their lungs Spanish numbers whenever they saw whatever it was they were seeing, making further sleep impossible. There were kids sleeping in the aisle, causing quite a chaotic unloading and loading of the bus at any rest stop. There was a baby in the back screaming that wavering infant wail every now and again. It was dreadful. The pit stop revealed the worse bathrooms I´ve seen to date, just holes in the ground to squat over. This I can handle and had seen before, however, these went a step further and didn´t include any doors, so anyone walking past your stall could see you plain as day, and the stalls were one right after another, minimizing privacy. The locals were incredible when re-boarding the bus after any stops, pushing and shoving and cutting line to get on a few seconds before anyone else, for what purpose I don't know as the bus always took twice as long as announced at any stop, leaving plenty of time to board in a civil manner. During all this time, I had not only a terrible case of gut rot, but also the pressure of a sinus headache extending through my ear canals as well as down to my jaw muscles. Once out of La Paz the temperature rose sharply to jungle heat, instantly soaking me with humid sweat that didn´t relinquish even during the night. The two movies played were wired to the sound incorrectly somehow, for the speaker crackle was louder than the movie track, making even the refuge of my Ipod impossible.
Through all of this though, it was the cliff that got to me the most. I can put up with the smaller inconveniences fairly well, I´m complaining about them but if it was just this I´d bus back to La Paz. But the road, wow, it really scared me. I was literally praying for my life for hours upon hours, unable to relax. As I´ve said, I´ve booked my one hour flight back already!