The musings and misadventures of a girl unprepared

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

'Leave the bags!!'

When I was 14 I wrote a bucket list and one of the things on that list is: to get in a taxi, point and shout 'follow that car!' Last night we pretty much did just that.

Our bus to Sucre was due to leave at 8.30, so we arrived at just gone 8 to check our bags in. We were surprised to be told to 'CORRE/RUN!' Because the bus was setting off. TWENTY FIVE MINUTES EARLY. Now I don't know if that's the norm in other countries but in England it is completely unheard of, the bus just being on time is a miracle.

So we ran, ridiculous backpacks and all and attempted to flag down the bus turning out of the station with the help of a by-standing bolivian family. The driver decided to ignore us. BIG MISTAKE. This then turned into some epic movie style chase through the streets of Sucre.

Evie shouts at me 'leave your bag!!' and I throw it down behind me and run (as fast as I can) with the bus operator lady after the bus through the very busy market streets that surround the terminal. Meanwhile Evie is wondering why on earth she offered to carry the two bags and shouts 'Ayudame!/Help me!' Until a bolivian couple come to the rescue. The couple are outraged at what's happened and the husband flings my bag over his shoulder, takes Evie's up in arm and chases after me.
And the bus STILL didn't stop, despite the girl from the company, me AND the angry bolivian man signalling and calling for the bus to pull over.

Well by this point Evie and I were all ready to give up. However apparently in Bolivia it is at this point custom to throw the bags into the back of a taxi and shout 'Follow that bus!!!' So that's what we did.

The taxi drove at 90mph, weaving in and out of cars through the extremely hectic night time traffic of Bolivia's capital city, until we eventually caught up with the bus. The taxi driver then waved like a mad man at the bus until it followed us to a nearby side street and pulled over. What a legend.

To our horror the bus still tried one last escape attempt as we began to get out of the car and get our luggage, but the drivers had an exchange of extremely stern glances indicating that our driver wasn't going to give up the chase that easily.
Exhausted and struggling the breathe from all the excitement, we hurried onto the bus after profusely thanking our taxi driver and giving him double the amount he asked for. And the bus driver had THE CHEEK to tap his wrist and shake his head at us.

We spent the next 12 hours fearing for our lives under the knowledge that we were at some point going to venture over South America's most dangerous road in a bus that cost us £9 each and who's driver drove like a mental person. Proof of which can be found in the journey time, which was supposed to be 14-16 hours. Also he stopped more than once during the night to let random people on in the middle of the countryside and I bet he didn't sigh and tap his wrist at them.
On the plus side the stars were stunning and I woke up in time to watch the sunrise over the desert. Which was rather beautiful.

By some stroke of crazy luck, we are now safe and sound in Bolivia's administrative capital, La Paz. Which also happens to be the world's highest capital city so I am struggling a little with the altitude, but it's nothing that some good food and more sleep won't solve. I still can't believe we made it.

So special thanks to all those awesome bolivians who helped us last night, thanks to you we are still on time with our travel plans and haven't lost out on 90 bol. To the driver of the bus who nearly left two young girls stranded in Sucre's more questionable end of town in the dark... Cheers mate.

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