Leaving Calama

Trip Start Dec 14, 2007
Trip End Nov 04, 2008

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Where I stayed
Frontera del Norte bus

Flag of Chile  ,
Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Given we were going to travel all night...or better travel a few hours and sleep on the bus at the Bolivian frontier...we decided to take it as a relaxing day.

And so it was, we walked around, had a nice long lunch, did some shopping, and even went to the cinema. The good thing about cinemas in Chile is that most films are not dubbed, so we saw "Atonement" in English at 5.30 pm in an empty cinema. The best feeling ever...a huge cinema for ourselves!

At 9.30 pm we were at the bus stop to get the Bolivia bus. There we met up with an English guy who is travelling around for 3 months. He is an English substitute teacher, but says he hardly gets work no as the state is hiring teachers from African and Eastern Europe who charge a third of what an English sub teacher does.

When we asked him what level of English those teachers have, he said "it doesnt matter, they just need a teacher to stand there. The level of schools in Manchester is shite anyway".

Much to our surprise at 9.50 pm a bright new bus appeared at the bus station. We really didnīt expect it to be so good given it was going to Bolivia and it was only $6,000 pesos (8 euros) for 5 hours trip.

Ahh...how the dream vanished when the bus left 5 minutes later and we were presented with the one that really would take us....a real old banger with fumes coming out of every possible place.

The first challenge was the "40 bolivians getting on the bus with 20 packs each" challenge. The moment the bus stopped approximately 40 bolivians dressed in their typical costumes appeared from no where carrying huge packs, bags and even tires! They dont seem to see anyone else once they see the bus so it was a mad rush to make space for ourselves.

Luckily in a country (Bolivia) where the tallest person is about Marcosī size it was quite easy for us to impose our rules....

The second challenge was "fit in the seat of the bus" challenge. These buses were made for the little ones in Lilliput, and we seriously could hardly fit sitting down. Anyway, it was only a 5 hour drive so that was OK.

The last challenge was "trying to sleep without moving at all and impossible to stretch your legs" challenge. This was the real challenge...with the added spice of snoring, and a bolivian old lady who lay down on the corridor of the bus, and released some very funny noises next to Veronika which did sound all like an "unnecessary expulsion of gases"...

In any case we did manage to sleep about 5 hours in total, which is sufficient.
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