When we’d booked our bus seats we’d been assigned two seats together and one across the aisle. I’d initially volunteered to take that one in the off-chance that I’d end up seated next to a girl I could chat up over the ride but as Murphy and I climbed onto the bus we noticed the other seat was occupied by a woman with a baby. I immediately renege on what I said and leave the seat to the last man on, Drisdelle. He wants no part of sitting next to a baby for fifteen hours so he tries to take other people’s seats until they board and kick him out one after another. With extreme reluctance he sits in the babyseat.
I’m kind of short by North American standards but this bus was obviously designed for Peruvians, because I didn’t really have any leg room. Murphy’s a lot lankier and his legs were basically mangled in front of him, even more so once the woman ahead of him dropped her seat back. Drisdelle ended up with both of his legs out in the aisle, looking miserable.
As the bus started moving a guy behind us put an empty glass juice bottle in the overhead compartment, so that with every turn or bump there was a loud clank. I was worried that it might break and still have juice it in (my shit was up there too) but it was dark and I didn’t know where it was so I just put up with the noise. After about 45 minutes I discovered where it was, as we hit a bump and it came down on my head. Awesome. This bus ride is the best.
I walk onto the bus with a numbered ticket in hand. Rumor has it the Peruvian buses are very comfortable compared to other South American countries. I’m looking forward to a decent night’s sleep on the overnight bus to Lima. Murphy and MacKay have adjacent seats. I’m the odd man out. I walk to the back of the bus and find my seat. I’m met by a Peruvian woman with an infant in her hands. Two seats for three people. Not what I had in mind. I do a quick scan. I see two empty seats a few rows back and another two empty seats at the back of the bus. I figure I’d try my luck with those. The bus leaves in 10 minutes. Looks like I might be in the clear. No such luck. Four people walk onto the bus at the last minute. Of course, I’m in their seats. I suck it up and take my seat next the mother and her child. I quickly root through my back pack as I remember seeing a Tylenol PM in there a few days ago. I dust off the pill and pop it in. A few hours pass and I am finally starting to feel tired. I throw an album on repeat and close my eyes. A few hours into my slumber I wake up in a sweat. I look over my shoulder and notice that the baby is now sleeping and drooling on my back. I look over at the mother. Looks like she is having the best sleep of her life at my expense. I shuffle the baby and try to get back to sleep. I wake up a few hours later go the baby kicking me in the back. The mother eventually wakes up and takes the baby. By this time it was nearly morning. We were being greeted by the usual vendor crowd. My dream of having a good nights sleep had been shattered.
Three hours into the trip we stopped at a service station / greasy spoon type joint so everyone could grab a bite to eat and smoke. Drisdelle was out the door immediately but Murphy and I hung back a couple of minutes to let everyone clear out ahead of us. The bus driver also left ahead of us and locked us in. Alright. Spent the next half hour locked inside the bus.
Back on the road and the lights are killed. With some help from podcasts I managed to nod off and grab a little bit of sleep but I awoke sometime in the middle of the night to find myself kind of surrounded. Murphy’s legs were well into mine and Drisdelle’s had come pretty much right across the aisle, pincering me in. On top of that the woman in front of me had dropped her seat back all the way, leaving me with at most an inch of movement in any direction. AAHHHHH! Minor half-asleep + claustrophobic freakout ensues. Start writhing, tear off my vest and throw it along with all the shit in the seat pocket up into the overhead compartment. Murphy’s staring at me like I’m a lunatic.
Cramped in my seat next to MacKay and smooshed by the reclined seat ahead I had a hard time nodding off through the night. My Cuenca bike fender knee cut was jammed up against the seat ahead, breaking open on bumps, my other leg invading MacKay’s space as I had no other place to put it and getting a nice weave imprint from the mesh netting on the back of the seat in front of him. Discomfort level almost maxed out. Finally got a bit of Zs in and woke up to daylight and a dusty desert landscape. Not a pretty desertscape, but an arid, dry, dirt lot looking Mad Max wasteland as far as the eye could see. We came to a town and it was a bit shocking how poor and rundown the place was. Windowless shacks with crumbling tin roofs, dirt roads eroded until near-impassable, garbage wind-strewn throughout. This was the kind of shanty town you hear about in African slums.
Still hadn’t gotten enough sleep and my eyes were drifting as the scenery flitted in and out, I rest my head against the window. I was awoken from sleep by a sharp crack on the head as the guy in the seat behind me opens the sliding window as hard as he can, sliding it right into the back of my head. Terrible way to wake up. I spin around in my seat and look at the guy, I point to the window and do the “No-No” finger wave mime. The dude glances at me and then just looks back out the window. The guy next to him gives me the “I dunno” shrug. Pretty awake now, but there’s lots of bus trip to go. A little while later, the sting in my head subsides a bit and the eyes are getting droopy again. Head back against the window. One fucking minute later that guy rams the window back into the same spot against the back of my head. I jump turn out of my seat as best I can in my confined quarters and glare at the guy. “Are you fucking kidding me?!” He had to have done that on purpose. What a Fuckface. I’m livid. The back of my head is pounding now. A goose egg forming back there. MacKay is glaring at the guy too, but Fuckface is just looking out the window and playing dumb. “He did that on purpose, man.”, “I know dude, that is fucking horseshit.”, “I’m gonna snap”. We’re still glaring at Fuckface waiting for some reaction, “Hey! What the hell is your problem?”, nothing he’s ignoring us. The guy next to him has a worried look on his face, sensing the bus brawl impending, “I dunno” shrug again. I turn around and sit back down. I’m a lover, but man I wanted to kick this guys teeth in. This is the same douchebag that put the bottle in the overhead area, had it clank against the bus for miles, and then drop onto MacKay’s head.
Not too much further down the road and I feel something touch my hair. In my periphery I can see grey elbows on the back of my seat. I look at MacKay in disbelief, “Is he right fucking behind me?”, “Yep, resting his arms on top of your seat, what an asshole.” I let it go. I’m not starting anything. We’re the only gringos on the bus. Couple minutes later and his elbows push into my head. That’s fucking it! I spin around, “Back the fuck off man! Get the fuck away from me, I’m serious!”, He doesn’t budge. MacKay is pissed too, this is ridiculous, “Really, you’re not going to move. You piece of shit.” Fuckface just bounces his arms on the back of my seat like, “I’m just resting my arms here” mime. “I don’t give a fuck, get the fuck off!”. People on the bus are now watching. The guy beside Fuckface is leaning away, waiting for me to just deck this asshole. And did I ever want to. But I sat down and told MacKay, “Can’t win this one, we’re the only white guys on the bus. Any incident is going to be seen as our fault.”, “Ya man, we can’t take on the whole bus. Just gonna have to deal with it.” Fuck sakes. What a dick.
Before the bus even gets to the station Fuckface is out of his seat and goes right to the front. He gets off first and goes down and grabs his bag and splits before we’re even off the bus. I think he was suspecting some 3 on 1 action and trying to get away before we mobbed him. What a coward. What an asshole. Fuck that guy.
Peru has a lot of making up to do because right now it’s taking the shit cake for places we’ve been.