Come along and ride …


December 5, 2012 by jiejie768

On our fantastic voyage. From Lima to Ayacucho. By bus. From 10:20 p.m. to 8:30 a.m. Without further ado, here is our running diary from the top floor of a Cruz del Sur cama bus headed from Lima to Ayacucho. (Posts before midnight are from Meg, posts after midnight are from Ryan)

10:20: Pulling out on to the mean streets of Lima. Ryan farted. I can smell it. This is going to be a long trip. According to the speedometer screen, we are moving at a glacial 26km/hr.

10:22: We wanted to live tweet this, but I have like four twitter followers and iffy internet. Future blog post it is.

10:23: Safety video! You probably want to know what happens at the beginning of one of these long distance overnight bus rides (of course you do). Well, first, you go throw “security”. A man with a toy light saber he bought at Tottus waves it over you and your bags, ignores it turning red, and lets you pass.

You sit and pray no one sits in front of you so you don’t have someone reclining in your lap. The chairs on a “cama bus” (bed bus) REALLY recline, so this is a legitimate concern.

I should note, there are people in front of us. As of 10:30 this morning the top floor of the bus had seven seats reserved. At time of departure, all of the 30 or so seats are occupied. Peruvians procrastinate.

Another man, who takes his job a little more seriously than Darth Vader in security over there, comes through with a video camera and records every person and their seat number. Some say this is to protect against terrorism, others say it is to more easily identify bodies in a crash. I say it’s more likely the former, as Darth didn’t do a great job checking for weapons — when flummoxed by my “lock” (a hairband tied through the zippers), he simply chose not to look in my bag.

10:28: Temperature comfortable. There are cup holders on this bus! Thanks for pointing that out, safety video. 45km/hr.

10:31: The safety video reminds us that there are bathrooms on this bus. They are ONLY for urination. REPEAT, only for urination. WRONG! What we learned on our trip to Lima is that they are also for refrigeration, as the average temperature in said bathrooms is approximately 2 degrees Celsius. If the bus gets too warm, it’s a nice place to hang out for awhile. 50km/hr.

10:34: If you have questions or complaints about Cruz del Sur, call 720444 from the provincias or, from Lima, 3115050. 73km/hr.

10:36: Sandwiches served! Ryan says they consist of “indistinct sauce, indistinct meat, white cheese, and a flake of lettuce.” The bus attendant has excellent balance. Walking on one of these buses is like walking on the deck of a ship during a hurricane. An innocent trip to the bathroom can easily turn into a surprise lap dance for an unsuspecting stranger. 79km/hr.

Also, yes, this is going to get sillier and sillier as we get more sleep deprived and we gain elevation. 62km/hr.

10:38: Movie time! “Recluta Americano”. “American Recruit?” What is this?!?! The menu shows a Marine in dress blues. Even though he is clearly enlisted and an African-American, we’re going to call him “Mark”. 59km/hr

10:41: We are now informed that the movie is called “American Son” in English. I still have no idea what this is. It appears that we’re getting to listen to the movie whether we like it or not this time (not playing through headphones like “Ramona and Beezus” on the bus from Ayacucho) and it’s going to be in Spanish. Is that Nick Cannon? It is. 72km/hr

10:43: The character might ACTUALLY be named Mark! Or Mike? It’s hard to tell with the dubbing. Also, he is on a bus. I feel really close to him right now. Now he’s in a truck. Nevermind. 61km/hr.

10:45: The attendant is now passing out coffee and tea. I cannot stress enough how incredible this woman’s balance is. 17km/hr

10:46 :This might be the most fun we’ve ever had on a bus. How long can we keep this up? 65km/hr

10:48: The person in front of Ryan just leaned her chair back as far as it goes. That’s what he gets for taking the window seat. 80km/hr

10:49: We just passed a gas station. The lowest price I saw on the sign was s/. 13.00/gallon (current exchange rate is 2.57 soles to the dollar). I have no concept of what gas costs in the US right now. 86km/hr

10:52: Nick Cannon speaks Spanish really well. 86km/hr

10:53: Is that The Famous Jett Jackson? 85km/hr

10:57: Can I just say that I’m really impressed with the level-headedness and composure our bus driver is exhibiting? You’d think that those qualities would be found in most bus drivers (or you know, people) but our bus driver from Banos to Quito on Saturday was found severely wanting in those areas. He was pulled over and screamed at a cop before we even left Banos (actually, we could still see the bus station), got in a fist fight with a man driving a truck, and stopped the bus so that he could relieve himself on the side of the road, even though there was a bathroom on the bus. It was a special trip. 83km/hr

11:14: All the curtains must be closed “for safety reasons.” Ohhhh-kay. 0km/hr (stopped for some reason. At a toll booth?)

11:19: Just back from the first trip to the bathroom and I didn’t fall down once. I headed back there when we were stopped to make sure. Once in the bathroom you basically have to hold yourself in place with the rails on the wall and then try not to fall back in the toilet while washing your hands (the lid pops up against the wall as soon as you stand up). There was a little bit of drunk-sailor walking on the way back to my seat, but nothing too serious. Even though we had hoped to get the very front seats, there is one plus to being a few rows back this time: You don’t have to walk past the stairwell that goes down to the first level. I have a deep seated fear of tumbling head first down those stairs. 89km/hr

11:42: It’s about time to try to get some sleep. Perhaps you’ll get some delirious posting as we inevitably wake up many times during the night.

3:23 a.m.: Guy behind us is snoring loudly. Every inhalation sounds like a failed attempt to suck his tongue through a straw. WWJD? He definitely would NOT smother him with a pillow, right? We’re sure? Yeah, OK. 41 km/h

7:50: All in all not a bad night’s sleep. The attendant just came around and took our blankets and pillows, which means we must be close to Ayacucho. It’s hard to tell as our windows are completely covered in dew. Also, seems a good time to mention that the “blankets and pillows” are barely big enough to cover an infant. 46 km/h

7:53: For our final descent into Ayachucho the video screen is regaling us with a photographic montage of various plants that may or may not be native to Peru. The collection is accompanied by a classical music soundtrack, which is admittedly far superior to the 80’s pop hits elevator-music remixes we were treated to last week as we neared Lima (imagine Lawrence Welk crooning “Material Girl” and you’ve got the idea). 32 km/h

7:57: It’s freezing in here. I want my blanket back! 16 km/h

8:01: We are driving through a cloud. I can’t see anything. Not that it’d matter as I’ve only left Ayacucho by auto a handful of times and have zero physical landmarks to indicate we’re close save, you know, driving into the town itself. 37 km/h

8:03: The photo montage now is showing Macchu Picchu. We’re going there later this month, so thanks for the spoiler alert, bus! 33 km/h

8:04: Our driver just did an impressive job of weaving between four cows in the road without hitting any of them. Also just learned that our classical-music-and-photo montages come to us courtesy of a DVD called “Despertar” (literally “to wake up”). 36 km/h

8:14: Our first confirmed sighting of Ayacucho from the hill overlooking the town. We are about an hour behind schedule, which is frustrating, but I imagine we all were sleeping so peacefully that the bus driver pulled the ol’ circling-the-block trick often utilized by parents when a normally-restless newborn conks out on the way home from the grocery store. 23 km/h

8:19: I (Ryan) have made it the whole bus ride without having to use the bathroom and am trying to complete the task, but the “Despertar” video is now showing a montage of waterfalls and surging river rapids … not helping. 16 km/h

8:23: We are blocking traffic while facing the wrong way on a one way street as the attendants at the bus depot prepare for our arrival. The horns of Ayacucho are sounding their disapproval. 0 km/h

8:30: We’ve arrived! After several minutes of Austing-Powers-esque jockeying, the bus is parked in its rightful place and we are ready to disembark and claim our checked baggage (two suitcases and one small bag of Lima-bought groceries that literally weighs more than either suitcase). Thanks for joining us on the very special journey. We are just a quick cab ride away from real-life, actual beds. WOO! HOO! Also, it’s pouring rain in Ayacucho … weird. 0 km/h

***This post should be taken as tongue-in-cheek. Cruz del Sur is a good bus line and we are glad they exist so we don’t have to leave for the airport at 2am every time we go to Lima.


2 thoughts on “Come along and ride …

  1. Mom (Annette) says:

    Hysterical! I had to stop several times because while laughing too hard my eyes go shut…
    I love you guys! 🙂

  2. Chip says:

    Oh my, and I thought my bus ride in Rwanda was scary. Hilarious account of your trip though. Thanks for the laughs!

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