SAMAIPATA TO SUCRE: The Bus Ride From Hell

We were all rainbows and unicorns when we saw the sign on the laundry shop:

“BUS TICKETS TO SUCRE”

Oh the joy of not having to go back to ugly Santa Cruz in order to continue to Sucre.
The bus leaves at 9pm and takes 12hrs to cover 380km. You’re getting the picture, it’s a joyride.

We bought the tickets on the day before, the owner of the shop reserved two seats for us and will take us to board the bus. Perfect I thought, no hassle and no bullshit in the middle of the night.
You can hear all sorts of stories about the bus, that the ride is wild and that you can’t sleep because the road is pretty bad. Well I’m not the best sleeper during transport, so that part didn’t really get to me.

We packed our stuff, actually happy to be leaving Samaipata.
Finally a change of destination after almost a week (we loved the place though!!!).

With a couple of French guys we met at the hostel and the extremely grumpy and for my taste schizophrenic Laundry Shop Owner (which I will call LSO from now), we started going downhill in Samaipata.

We passed the first car, then the second…
We were fucking doing this on foot – apparently this was normal procedure?!

Silly me to think they will be driving us there.

Using shortcuts to get us through some shady neighbourhoods, I was really happy for having those French guys with us…we could have been robbed and lying in a ditch in no time.

So we got to our destination – the side of the main road, where the LSO proceeded to talk on the phone to probably some relative, never even casting a glance our way, let alone talking to us.

Between 9-9.30pm the bus rolls in, we jump on, only to realize that all our seats are taken (so 4 in total for us and the French) and the bus seems completely full.

No time now to get to the crazy LSO and give her a taste of my cursing vocabulary in Spanish (or for my Serbian friends: da joj jebem mater), so I start to express my sudden lack of satisfaction to the attendant.

Finally we get some seats at the very back of the bus – where you can image the bumpiness of any ride tends to reach a climax. I’m still shocked by the crappiness of the bus, and then Heli starts moaning that the recliner of his seat gets set back to neutral position every time we hit a bump…fantastic.

The driver is clearly a madman (apparently that’s the requirement for being a driver in Bolivia) and it’s great that he’s in a kind of booth and we can’t really see the road or the crazy maneuvers he’s performing. Describing this bus ride as wild is a joke. I have no words in any of the languages I speak to do it properly.

A lot of the time we were literally hurled into the air and once a shoe fell on my head (courtesy of my beloved).

Worse was, that I had to go to the toilet…BADLY.

I spent quite some hours holding it in and trust me the bumping-jumping-flying combo wasn’t really helpful.
At some point the bus stopped and the driver yelled that we can go to the toilet.

I ran, got near some bushes, briefly thought about flashing my white gringo ass at all the Bolivians from the bus, but at that point I really didn’t care, so off goes the underwear. Apparently I’m such a master at holding it in, that I actually needed a couple of minutes to get things going.

A friendly piece of advice…do it differently! Go to the driver and bitch a moan till he stops that thing!

In the end I don’t believe I’d slept at all. I’m also very glad WE SURVIVED THAT SHIT.

At some point the road gets a bit better, but by that time the sun’s already appearing so if you’re like me you probably won’t be getting much sleep from then on (I don’t wanna get your hopes up).


To complete this lovely story here’s some actual information:

 

Cost

100 BOB for the ride from hell per person.

Tickets available at the laundry shop on Calle Bolivar (across from Andorina Hostal).

 

Lessons learned

Don’t buy bus tickets at a laundry shop 😀

Kidding, here’s how to do it better:

Option 1: go to Santa Cruz in the morning – get on a bus from one of the better companies in the evening.

Option 2: phone a reputable company and explain that you want to get on at Samaipata. I believe we were waiting on the main road across from “El nuevo turista”. It should be manageable if you’re a little adventurous.

On the weekends the seats tend to sell out, so maybe phone to make a reservation or ask somebody at your hostel to help you out with that.


It’s always the crappy rides that stick with us, the nice a pleasant ones are gone with the wind as soon as we step off the vehicle – bus/boat/plane take your pick.

What’s your wildest adventure in transport? Let us know in the comment section!

Safe travels Mili & Heli!

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