For week 14 of the Indie Travel Challenge, we want to hear your best Latin America transportation stories .
Want to know how buses are in South America? Here. I’ll tell you.
50 hours on a bus, the last 24 with only half a liter of water for sustenance, no change of clothes, and a steady flow of water dripping onto the seat next to me…
Yes, this is an excerpt from the ridiculously long story I am writing about my 50 hours from hell bus ride between Eastern Venezuela to Bogota, Colombia. A ride that happened when I found out the cheap, same-day planes to the border; that the horrible tour in the Orinoco I was leaving told me I could easily find, didn’t actually exist, and I was stranded at the Maturin Airport.
After hours in the airport, asking around, and waiting for travel agencies to open (that never did), I got help from a girl who found buses to Colombia.
“How much time to Bogota?”, I asked.
“About 20 hours”, she replied. So I jumped in the taxi driver’s cab and he raced to the bus station to get me on the bus in time.
After buying my ticket, loading my bag, and setting off for my approximately 20 hour bus ride to Bogota, I relaxed a little, took my blanket, and stretched out across the 2 seats in my row and settled off to sleep for the night.
About an hour or so later I woke up to wetness.
Yes, this is how my bus ride started. It was all uphill from there (dripping with sarcasm).
Not only did I learn that “How much time are we stopped for?”, ACTUALLY meant “Yes, I DO want to f&%k you and your giant unibrow” (sorry for the miscommunication assistant bus driver, my bad.); I learnt that it is NOT 20 hours from Eastern Venezuela to Bogota, Colombia, nor was it ever supposed to be.
After a fit of laughter at the ‘stupid gringa’, I was told…
“It’s about 20 hours or so from Maturin to San Cristobol. Then it’s another couple hours to San Antonio to get the exit stamp (from what I read online it was right down the street), and another hour to cross into Cucuta, Colombia. Then about 20 more hours from there to Bogota.”
I almost died. I had only the clothes I was wearing. Everything else was filthy from the Orinoco Delta, and in the back of the bottom of under the bus. I had no American cash and not a ton of Bolivars left.
Yes, these are a few excerpts from my rough draft of my 50 HOUR bus ride form hell across trying to get out of Venezuela (after a horrible tour). I’m only half done writing this story, because I can’t seem to sit, write, and relive the whole story for more than a few minutes at a time. I’ve been traumatized. Traumatized to the point, I actually try to fly everywhere now. I am straight-up afraid of bussing through Peru and Bolivia from the stories I have heard.
The only times I have taken a bus since this nightmare-ride was; when I had no choice and needed to get from Bogota to Medellin in one night to get to the Altavoz Festival (and the hell out of freezing-cold, rainy Bogota) , and a couple times to small towns around Medellin; but I was with my friend slash fixer slash personal translator who is from Medellin. If I could travel with a friend, I might actually take more buses; but alone…not a chance.
So what is the “best” transportation story? Well, if you want to laugh at another’s misfortune, I would definitely put mine in the running.
Once I can finally get over the trauma and finish it.
I am a freelance travel and music photographer and creator of GoingNomadic.com. I love music, food, and exploring cities without guidebooks. I've flown a helicopter, hitchhiked down the east coast USA, and once snuck into the back of a zoo (in Serbia) and pet a lion. I am always up for an adventure, and sometimes I videotape them.