I Can See The Train A Coming

Trip Start May 30, 2005
Trip End Sep 30, 2006

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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Wednesday, March 22, 2006

So when I finished my last entry, I said that I bought a ticket and headed for the train back to Santa Cruz. What I didnīt mention was that I couldnīt buy one of the expensive (8 pounds) cushy tourist class tickets and could only get my hands on a cheap (1 pound 30) 2nd class ticket, giving me the chance to get up close and personal with the real Bolivia.

I arrived at the station half an hour early for my train, turning up at about 22:50. They ask you arrive an hour early but thatīs overkill for a station midway along the line. I sat on my rucksack and listened to my music. It was a pleasantly night and I didnīt mind waiting.... for a while. An hour past and the train was now half an hour late. Another hour and I began becoming a bit impatient.

Most of the other people waiting on the platform had had enough of the crappy facilities in the station and started to cross the line and amble into two abandoned carriages shunted into the side, presumably because it was slightly more comfortable.

I waited another hour and a half before the train decided to amble along. Three and a half hours of worrying about my night ahead with my 2nd class ticket. What will the seats be like? Am I going to get all my stuff stolen? I seriously considered just leaving the station and trying for a better ticket another day, but Iīd probably just find myself in the same situation again, so what would be the point.

Now the real fun and games started. I couldnīt find my carriage, it just wasnīt there. I looked up and down the train but couldnīt find it. Time was ticking away and the rail workers looked harrased as they tried to get the train away as quick as possible, obviously someone else further up the track hadnīt been doing their job.

I grabbed one of them and told him my carriage wasnīt there, he took hold of my ticket and ran to the back of the train. I had to trot after him with my 20Kg rucksack weighing me down. He got to the end of the train and looked confused as well, after further discussions he told me to get on the currently last carriage and wait, two more were being added at this station. It then dawned on me that the other passengers had actually known what was going to happen and had all been grabbing the best seats in the apparently abandoned carriages.

I climbed on and waited. I stood watching a strange damp patch outside the door realising the it had been caused by loads of people using the toilet while the train is stationary, maybe they donīt like getting shook around in there? The smell of the urine hung in the air and itīs a smell that Iīve had to get used to around here, in Sucre and during the Carnival in Oruro. The locals donīt seem to mind it and happily stand in the damp earth and drag part of it onto the train on the bottom of their feet. I kept my rucksack on my back during this, I wasnīt putting it down on this floor.

Now, what happened next has got to be my number one contestant for "The Most Disgusting Thing I Saw On My Trip" category. Iīd been chatting with a few friendly locals while waiting for the train to move, Iīd seen a couple of guys finishing of a chicken meal that they must have bought when the train first stopped. One of them got out his chair and came out to where I was been standing, he then spotted a thread on the floor. He looked really pleased with himself as he picked it up and then proceeded to use it as dental floss to extract that pesky bit of chicken stuck in his teeth. Donīt forget about the state of the train floor with regards to the toilet. Pass me the sick bag!

While all this had been going on a particularly unkempt but really friendly guy had jumped from the train and checked that my carriage actually wasnīt attached to the train afterall. He managed to climb back on as the train was moving off, out of breath after his little jaunt. We moved a little while and then the two spare carriages were shunted on, he then followed me from where I was onto to my carriage, having to give me a helpful push as I struggled up the big step with my backpack. He then followed me to my seat and helped my store it above the seats. I gave him a big thanks and he shuffled off. I was a little worried though, I couldnīt get it out of my mind that perhaps he was just checking me out and my stuff.

I was actually quite worried since the value of my baggage would more than likely be worth way more than the others here. I decided to stay awake and keep watch. Of course itīs not that simple, and withing half an hour I was snoring away, it was after 2AM afterall. I woke up a few hours later, really concered with my bag, and sure enough, it was still there. The journey was actually quite comfortable, there was plenty of spare seats so I was able to lie down a little bit and everyone was really friendly. Nothing to worry about in the end. We arrived in Santa Cruz an extra hour late, and I hopped in a taxi and to the guest house that Iīd left just over a week before.

Iīm afraid that this entry is just about the story of getting to Santa Cruz. I only stayed for a day and a half, during this time I just rested and did some necessary but boring tasks, such as updating travelpod and washing my clothes. I hope you liked the train story though!
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