On the Buses

Trip Start Sep 02, 2008
Trip End Dec 14, 2008

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Flag of Peru  ,
Friday, October 3, 2008

Promising to return, we left the psyco French hostel owner (we deduced he was French, due to his chain smoking and the fact he sported a ridiculous beret - the type any non-French person would never entertain the thought of buying) and headed for the bus station. The bus station doesn't warrant much comment, suffice to say the usual scene presented itself - having to dodge through packs of bowler hatted women (containing anything from llama's to children in their multi coloured sacks which are thrown somewhat haphazardly over their shoulders) to the bus 'callers', whose job is to continually shout the destination to attract custom. In between shouts of "Cusco, Cusco Cuuuuuuuusco" we congratulated ourselves on securing prime position (top deck, right up front) as I'd generously decided to forgo one of my 'must-do's' due to the price. I had planned that we would catch the train from Puno to Cusco, the Orient Express of South America apparently - however scrutiny of the budget meant the local bus ($8 US) won over the train ($143 US). The scenery promised much, moving from Lake Titicaca through the antiplano and then steep sided valley's as we neared Cusco and towards Macchu Picchu.

From the moment we boarded the bus, the omens were not good, Jenny discovered there were no seat belts (not unusual in either Bolivia or Peru) but the huge crack in the windscreen sent her into a mild panic. My mood was not helped by managing to smack my head on the TV twice, the second time forcing me to punch the said TV resulting in a sore fist (seemingly my smack had succeeded in breaking the television to the extent that the rest of the bus (we couldn't see the TV from our seats..) had to endure the terrible film with the menu options stuck on the screen)). Better yet, on the otherside of us a husband and wife had settled (after the husband had smacked his head on the TV) and we then discovered the wife was continually throwing up into a sadly inadequate plastic bag. This combination of dry retching, burping and full on vomiting continued from the moment we left to almost an hour before we reached Cusco.

The fact we reached Cusco is still a mystery to me as I'd given up the ghost long before, to be pricise about half an hour into the journey. My attention was taken away from the sick women and the badly dubbed film and focused fully on deciding exactly what part of the road the driver was going to choose to topple the bus into the viaduct. Despite being faced with a road blessed with a lack of curves the Romans would be proud of, the driver insisted on careering down, not on the tarmac'd road, but a mere tyre's length from a sheer drop of 20 metres or so, this practice was only interspersed with wild swings to the wrong side of the road. Amazingly Jenny had become resigned to the crazy driving and annoyingly spent the journey either deep in a book or fast asleep, to leave me to grip white knuckled (well pink knuckled thanks to the TV) to the side. Thankfully about 5 hours in, the road became more to the driver's liking and the wife had thrown up all she could and I managed to relax just enough to make it to Cusco without jumping off and trying hitch-hiking. An hour before we got to Cusco the sick woman (after throwing up half our water supply) got off and a slightly too keen guy ran for the front seat and predictably smacked his head on the TV!!

Reaching Cusco bus terminal would have seen us kiss the floor Pope-style, however the proliferation of dog crap managed to restrain us and we settled for catching a taxi to our soon to be hated hostel in downtown Cusco...

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