Bus Sketchiness in Bolivia

Jan 6, 2011 was the day we left Cusco.

The only goal we set in Bolivia was to bike Solar de Uyuni.  So we had a lot of busing and train-riding to do.  Which can be sketchy in Bolivia.  So here´s my sketchy Bolivia story:

Bolivia for those of you that don´t know, is one of the poorest countries in South America.  That doesn't mean that Bolivia does not have amazing culture and people.  It just means that a traveler can´t always expect the services to be the best. And the roads have a tendancy to be very extremely high in the mountains, windy, with steep drops, and not paved in many places.  In my time in Cusco, I had heard and read some stories about drunken bus accidents, so when I bought tickets for the long overnight bus from Cusco to La Paz, I researched which were the safest and best options. I chose Litoral because I had read good things and people told me they were a very good company. 

Too bad we never got on the Litoral bus of which I bought more expensive tickets.  Instead, out of mass confusion, we and all the other people who bought tickets for Litoral got put on a different bus: Continental.  The Litoral bus never showed, so they just shoved us to another bus. 

Oh well, the sales agents told us this company was ¨mas tranquilo¨ and it was going to the same place so just rolled with it.  We popped some sleeping pills and tryed to make the best of the overnight ride.

Next thing we know we wake up to a loud scraping noise on our side of the bus and people screaming.  My stomach dropped...wtf was going on!  We actually were crashing.  The bus came to a hault and we all jumped out to see what had happened.  Sure enough, we hit a rock wall, smashed the window, punctured some tires, scraped the entire side of the bus, and the door was ripped completely off. The drivers, claiming that it was an animal that ran in front of the bus that caused them to crash into the rock face, were frantically trying to wrap bailing wire around the metal to keep it in tact while others were switching out a tire.  The passengers was shocked, as it was 1:30 in the morning and we were in the middle of nowhere.  We all got back on the bus and tried to stay warm.

Next thing you know, the bus drivers just hopped back in and started to drive without any explanation.  The engine sounded terrible, and I was starting to panic feeling trapped.  Uh, get me the hell out of this thing!  Well, thank god for Argentinian passengers, who could speak spanish and had the cajones to start demanding the drivers to stop, and then eventually got everyone in the bus so riled up that we forced the drivers to stop again.  There happened to be some police in a nearby small town we drove through, so we brought them to the scene to view the bus and deem it unable to drive.

So, we slept in the bus sitting on the side of the road, and then eventually made it to La Paz after getting on 2 more buses and haggling with the drivers for cost.  We were now behind a day, but at least the accident was not that bad and everyone was safe. 

Lesson learned: Do not just get on a random cheaper bus in Bolivia on a long ride.  Never again.  And don´t ever ride with Continental in Bolivia.  Ever.

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Wow! I have had some crazy travel stories but Smackers yours sure makes mine look lame. Glad you made it out of there with a great story and no major injuries.  Loving you and Ryan! Brad