Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Bus from hell... here at last.

This is going to be a really graphic blog post, but I feel like you guys can handle it.

So I´m the idiot for deciding that spending 90 soles (about $30 USD) on a trip all the way from Trujillo to Arequipa was a good idea. You know me, I love a good bargain, especially while traveling. Coulda paid more than double for a fancier bus, but I figured, how bad can it be?? Classic case of famous last words.

After a super relaxing and wonderful last day in my new favorite beach town, Huanchaco, I rallied over to the Trujillo station to meet my 10:00pm bus to Lima. 9 hours, leg 1 of 2. It didnt´t seem so bad, although the fact that I was virtually the only tourist on the bus was a small bad sign. The woman who´d sold me the ticket promised me a window, but of course I had an aisle. And though should couldn´t promise me a skinny person next to me, it would have been cool if she didn´t put me next to the large man carrying a sack of what looked like leaves and sticks. Whatever though, no problem. 9 hours isn´t so bad.

Hours before, I´d realized run out of Dramamine on the last bus ride, and had frantically gone to 2 pharmacies, only to be told that they had none. However, a very nice girl at the hostel gave me 5 pills of something alled Mareaol, which she said had helped her a lot with sea sickness. How different can that be?

SIDE NOTE to those who don´t know me or have never been in a car with me-- I get really freaking car sick. It´s just one of those annoying things about me. How I turned out to be such a traveler with such travel sickness is just bad luck I guess. There are very few members of my family who haven´t been puked on at some point in my life, though that was mostly when I was a little kid, and it´s been years since my last vomit-fest on a bus.

But anyway. I popped 2 Mareaol for the journey, inflated my new best friend the inflatable neck pillow, and went to sleep.

5 hours later I woke up with the sytmptoms I am all too familiar with. I was sweating and nauseaous and felt like if I didnt open a window I would die. The bus´s windows of course didn´t open though, and I found myself scrambling in my bag for something to puke in. I found a plastic bag, grabbed it, and made it aaaalmost to the bathroom before I just threw up into the bag. Okay, mostly in the bag. Okay-- shameless, graphic blog post-- okay, I threw up a little bit into the bag and mostly on myself and the floor of the bus. Hour 5 of 28 and I´m now covered in vomit. I tried to wash myself off in the bathroom but it didnt accomplish much. Anyway I felt a lot better so I just went back to sleep and tried to act natural...

I arrived in Lima at 7:00am... I was supposed to have a 2.5 hour layover at this point, but I got bumped right onto a 7:15 bus, which was fantastic because it meant a 2 hour shorter trip, and horrible because it left me no time to change. I ran right onto the next bus, and this time was literally horrified by what I found. Dirty seats and no overhead storage. A bathroom with no sink. Seats that literally went back maybe 2 inches, AKA nothing, and ZERO LEGROOM. Even a midget would complain. This was to be my home for the next 17 hours.

I immediately wanted to die. I popped 2 more Mareaol, although they clearly didn´t work, based on previous experience. Everything about this second bus was horrible except for 2 critical details-- 1. it had windows that opened... although mine didn´t.. but the one behind me did.. and 2. there was no one seated next to me. And frankly, who would want to be seated next to me anyway.

Hour 1: Crazy Catholic Jesus guy preaches and preaches and preaches and preaches. No I mean, he talked for 45 MINUTES about Jesus. And he was shouting, so there was no rest for the weary. He explained the basics, like that Michael Jackson died young because he dyed his skin white, and that´s a sin, and that men who sleep with men also die young, as in the case of some guy named Mauricio. And he kept pointing at me, and explaining in Spanish to the other passengers that even though the gringa tourist couldn´t understand a word he was saying (which I unfortunately could), that Jesus loved me anyway. God is in Peru. Jesus is from Peru. I don´t know, my attention went in waves. He then explained that we will all be protected by God in our lives--amen-- if we just believe, and pray--amen--and on this long journey he will protect us--amen--and we should BUY HIS CHOCLATES FOR 1 SOL EACH because that is the Christian thing to do. Yes, after 45 minutes and talking he tried to sell me something. These crappy chocolates! And just wait til you find out how I found out they were crappy! He came around to every seat and asked for money, and when someone bought one, he´d say loudly to everyone on the bus, ¨this wonderful person has a heart and god bless them,¨and when they didn´t buy them, he´d say, ¨this person doesn´t care about Peru or about Jesus or about the starving babies something something...¨ yes, he actually talked about starving babies at one point. He then made it to my seat and said to everyone, ´this tourist doesn´t understand a word I´m saying, but let´s see if she cares about the people of Peru and the babies of the world¨, after which all the heads in the bus were turned toward me, the baby hater. Here I am, covered in my own vomit, hating babies and Peru and who knows what else, and all I could think of was to dig into my pocket for a sol to buy the chocolate and get the guy the hell away from me. Oh, the look of shock on his face! An actual tourist who doesn´t hate babies! I half expected the entire bus to erupt into applause as he announced that the crazy confused tourist did, in fact, have god in her heart, but thankfully they didn´t.

Hour 2-3: The baby directly next to me WAILS and SCREAMS and CRIES for almost 2 consecutive hours. I mean, it was impressive. I felt bad complaining because the poor mother was much more stressed out about it than me, but I still secretly wanted to kill her.

Hour 4: After finally getting to sleep after the crying baby extravaganza, I awake from one of my many awkward positions to that feeling again... sweating... hot... gonna die... and all i can think of is the open window behind me. I had to puke NOW (Mareaol be damned!!!) and ended up standing up and leaning out the window of the guy BEHIND ME, much to his horror, and throwing up about 3 times, until some guy tapped me on the shoulder to alert me that there was, in fact, a bathroom. I barged into the bathroom and found it occupied by a woman with her pants down, and, of dear god, all I could do was shoo the man next to me out of his seat and puke out HIS window.

Yes, everyone´s favorite passenger. I know, this blog post is disgusting, but I figured I may need these details recorded someday if I ever write my memoirs or a horror movie script.

Hours 5-11: No more puking. My stomach had finally decided to let me and the rest of the passengers chill for a while. I bend and fold my body into unhuman positions, feet hanging out into the aisle, head hanging into the aisle. I figured at this point, everyone on the bus already hates me, so might as well try to get some sleep.

Hour 12: An adorable little old man carrying a huge basket gets on the bus (yes, the discount bus makes 5 million stops) and chooses to sit down next to me. I look at him with imploring eyes, but he doesn´t budge. So I say, ¨You can sit there, but you should know I have been throwing up frequently.¨ He moves.

Hour 14: Three hours short of arrival and the driver wants a dinner break. I´m eating peanuts at a roadside restaurant. The restaurant is simulaneously playing reggaeton on the radio, a loud variety show in which women have their clothing ripped off on the tv, and the Christmas tree has singing lights that repeatedly sing Silent Night. I resume wanting to die.

1:30am: Two hours early, I role up to Kieran´s house, a back-aching, vomit-encrusted shell of my former self. He´s nevertheless happy to see me. God bless the Irish.

UPDATE: 24 hours have passed. My stomach cramps have subsided and my back isn´t too bad. Had a great day in Arequipa exploring the city center, various markets, and learning about all the crazy animals and their parts that can be thrown in a soup. Kieran and his roommate have another couchsurfer here named Stef that I hung out with while Kieran was working, and that´s been great. Super glad to be catching up with my old friend, and to have a couple days to relax. Arequipa isn´t the most exciting, but it´s a very pretty city (only slightly white though, despite its name The White City) and is keeping me entertained. Doesn´t take much, honestly.

Despite the traumatic experience, I bought a slightly less discounted bus ticket to Cusco for tomorrow night. I´ll be there by Thursday morning. Can´t wait!!!


[dave] said...

girl you are effin crazy to take that discount bus.

and i'm a little upset you didn't act like that chocolate magically gave you powers to talk spanish and channel spirits of lost children.

Claire, the other colo said...

Tell me that you used PQS when informing the man who sat next to you about your vomiting.