It’s been nearly three months and many buses since we first arrived in Peru. I wouldn’t say I’m a Peruvian bus expert by any means, but I’m getting closer and closer every day.
Choosing a bus might be an art or something, but for longer trips, we mostly stick with middle-of-the-road buses and all has worked well.
Our first big bus trip was to Cajamarca, where S/.90 bought us 16 hours of bus, three Sylvester Stallone movies dubbed in Spanish, and two days of bus-induced food poisoning.
A few crowded colectivos later and we were on our second big bus trip to Huaraz (S/.45, 8 hours of bus, Breaking Dawn Pt. 1 in Spanish, and no food poisoning).
Then we made a really big mistake and took Turismo Sillustani from Chivay to Puno. The Turismo Sillustani bus was like a five-star hotel. The windows glistened. The seats looked clean. Not one of the seatbelt buckles was held in place with a ziptie (see image below).
My seatbelt on the bus from Arequipa to Chivay.
We should’ve known the second its staff handed out individual snack bags and bottled water: Once we got on that bus, we never wanted to get off. Especially when a lightning storm erupted around us and snow filled the road.
This little snack bag was all prepackaged and all mine. Shoot.
Spoiled by Turismo Sillustani, we decided to head to Cusco on Tour Peru and probably would have had we not tried to leave the same day the miners went on strike.
The buses were cancelled, save for one entrepreneurial bus line we’d never heard of. (In fact, my name produces more Google hits then this company, which I think sort of says something.)
A negotiated S/.40 got us 10 hours of bus with no bathrooms on board and seatbelts without buckles. I asked the bus attendant when snack bags would be passed out. (Just joking!)
My seatbelt from Puno to Cusco -a stunning combination of safety and aesthetics.
It actually ended up a fun bus ride. I mean, after we safely made it to our destination. See, if no one gets hurt or is emotionally damaged or whatnot, situations like these make good stories. (If the bus had rolled into one of the nearby ravines, I would think differently.)
To avoid the strike, the bus detoured down a tiny dusty dirt road boarding a rather sharp drop. Instead of looking out the window, I chose to concentrate on things like the half-eaten pastry item shoved in the headrest cover in front of me. One time the driver slowed down to ask for directions. Another time we stopped for a communal bathroom break in this field of short grass (see image below).
Communal bathroom break -ever a bonding moment.
The TVs weren’t on, but that’s OK because I just watched the priceless faces of a construction crew as the bus s-l-o-w-l-y skirted the edge of a construction ditch.
Approaching a construction zone.
My favorite stop though was when we all piled off and filled the road ruts with nearby rocks to allow the bus to pass. Unfortunately I have no photos of this moment as I was busy trying to prove my worth by lifting small-to-medium-sized rocks.
Lunch stop! I opted for ice cream.
90 km and four hours later, we scooted back on to the main road, the TVs switched on, and life got infinitely duller.
I think many lessons were learned, but the two I choose to take away are:
- Don’t drink five cups of tea before boarding a bathroomless bus.
- Don’t even dare think about trying that half-eaten pastry, no matter how hungry you are. (For the record, I didn’t.)
Through My Headphones
*Everything You See (Kids Count Hallelujahs) -Portugal. The Man