Ok, so I should be writing about the Pantanal right now, but we arrived in Sucre today after our first Bolivian bus journey and it is worth talking about! We had heard the stories but it was hard to tell what was exaggerated and what wasn’t. After last night’s experiences, I think it is safe to say most of them are probably true!
The title above would probably have been a better way of describing the ticket we bought for 100 Bolivianos. Rather than taking the calm and relaxing approach along the scenic roads to Sucre from Santa Cruz, our driver (or drivers, as I’m pretty sure a couple of guys had a go) decided that we should probably overtake anything else that moved on the road in front of us.
Blind corners. Not a problem for our driver, and besides taking the inside line on the wrong side of the road is a very effective way of overtaking three lorries at a time, and in the likely event that something should come the other way during this moment of race driving prowess, our driver could always beep his horn a lot and the other vehicle will probably get out the way. Oh wait, we are driving on a cliff lined, pot hole covered gravel track. Moving out the way would mean falling into ravines below, and consequently ruining the beautiful scenery with burning bits of coach sprawled across the cliff side. Ah well, lets do it anyway!
Come to think of it, I can actually remember wondering which part of the bus should I hold onto to give myself statistically the most chance of survival if we did abort an overtake over the edge of the cliff. I’m quite sure this hasn’t crossed my mind while riding a bus in England.
One story we had heard was that every now and again you can get on a bus with a drunk driver. Well, our driver wasn’t drunk (he preferred other substances) but a lorry driver quite possibly was! A couple of hours into the mountain climb and we hit traffic. A few minutes later and the cause of the hold up became apparent. A large lorry transporting sand lay on its side with its load spilled across the road. God knows how it happened. The road was straight and wide enough for two vehicles. My guess was that he was trying an overtake and went up onto the edge of the bank. Funnily enough, after passing this accident our driver seemed to slow down. Well at least to some extent.
A long fourteen plus hour bus journey must get very tiring for the drivers. It would probably be a good idea to bring along some sort of energy drink, or maybe a flask of coffee or tea. Alternatively, you could take a pick me up with a little more kick, something like, errr….COCAINE!
Yes that’s right, our drivers probably would have been more suited to djing at a rave than drive us along the wafer thin mountain side roads to Sucre. It was quite comical actually. We were sitting in the front row of seats. The busses out here have a special cabin for the drivers that separates them from the rest of the passengers by a window and a door. Before taking the coke, our drivers made a half hearted effort at closing the curtains on the door and windows so we couldn’t see what they were doing. Unfortunately for them, they had left a number of large gaps where we could see clearly what was going on in the cabin.
If you look at the bright side, at least it was unlikely the drivers would be falling asleep at the wheel!
Oddly enough, that was easily the most interesting bus journey we have had yet! The roads in Brazil are boringly straight and although there is some good scenery to see along the way, it doesn’t compare to forest lined mountains and streams we saw on the way to Sucre. Imagine Jurassic park without the dinosaurs. The bus ride was sketchy, but it certainly makes a good story!
(ps. Incase you’re interested the company we went with from Santa Cruz was called “Capital” I’ll leave it up to you to make your own mind up on whether it is a good idea to use them!)