It’s been one whole year since I set off for the unknown. And that thought is terrifying to me. I struggle with the notion of time passing by at the best of times. I remember so clearly getting on that flight, and not knowing what lay ahead. It’s a strange thought to go back to that moment now that I know exactly what lay ahead.
Being away from South America longer than the time I spent there, and not spending 24 hours a day with the best travelling buddies one could ask for makes this time a pretty sad one for me. So looking back in my travel diary I found a few pages where I had something to complain about. It’s definitely in a “first world problem” scale of hard times, but sometimes when you’re on the road, you just want to click your fingers and be home.
On the 12th May 2013, my fellow companions and I experienced the worst bus ride of our live. Seriously, without a doubt, the worst. By far. We had been warned by our friend Matt who we sadly left behind in La Paz, as he was travelling in the opposite direction, but nothing could have prepared us for this. It was 11 hours of hell. An overnight bus from La Paz to Uyuni in Bolivia, where it seems they just forgot to make a road. 11 hours straight of driving over rubble and dirt. Dirt that was kicked up into dust, that somehow found it’s way into the bus. From our back seats we couldn’t see the middle of the bus. If you breathed in too deeply it felt like you were swallowing dirt.
The bumpy ride was making us all lift off our seats every few meters, they might as well have been on springs, and the backs detached from the rest of it. It was like we were in a cartoon where everything was exaggerated for comical effect. There was a leaver to be able to put your back down, but unfortunately each chair was stuck in one setting. You were screwed if your seat was stuck bolt up right and the one in front of you was down. I was getting so angry trying to get some sleep, it just wasn’t happening. My seat had the added bonus of a squeak every time it moved, and we were all really cold but some crazy heat was coming out from under the chair burning my legs. At around 1am the bus stopped for a short break and we all had a good moan about how bad it was. After that I realised that at least I wasn’t in this on my own, and it’s not like I had work to go to the next day. So I decided to “enjoy” the ride, listen to some music, and I think I even got a 30 second nap between two bumps.
The scary thing is, we were the only tourists on that bus, so everyone else on that journey must do it on a regular basis. They had pilled in as many passengers as they could, there were even children in the aisle. I was with my friends and it was just part of the adventure (oh here I go missing them all again). For us it was one really bad night, but something to laugh about (once we’d recovered) and a story to tell. But for everyone else that was probably just normal. These days when I hear someone say “oh god, I had the WORST journey ever”, I have to stop my self saying, “unless it was between La Paz and Uyuni, No. You really didn’t”.