Notes from the Road: Worst Busride Ever

Remember, about a month ago, when I rocked some impressive travel karma? To the tune of a $500 flight voucher, a swanky hotel stay and a first class upgrade where I drank my weight in free Diet Coke? Well, the travel gods saw to it that any karmic imbalances created with all that good luck were righted during our most recent busing adventure.
The Mister and I had just finished a three-day tour of the salt flats, hanging with some fantastic Wellingtonians that we met at Carnival. Uyuni, the tiny dust bowl of a town that serves as the gateway to the salt flats, cleverly offers train service out of town only twice a week. Our bible, The Lonely Planet, called the buses out of town ¨cold, bumpy and inadvisable¨but then we know how they felt about the awesomeness that is sandboarding, don´t we? ¨We´re rugged!¨we cried. ¨We´re rough and tumble travelers!¨we challenged. ¨We don´t want to stay in this shit hole another minute!¨we wept.
So we were more than pleased when we found a bus out of town that would take us all the way back to the capitol in seven hours. We rounded up snacks for the bus, inflated those nerdy neck pillows and settled in for what we were sure would be seven hours of lovely mountain scenery and Pringle nibbling.
Here are some highlights of what transpired during my own personal version of hell:
  • We find our seats at the very back of the bus and are immediately surrounded by a huge group of silver miners
  • They pull out several bottles of rubbing alcohol, mix them with bottles of Fanta and begin drinking before the bus pulls out
  • They joyfully (and repeatedly) offer us this delicious drink while asking Sam who is the hottest American actress. “Angelina Jolie, yes? Yessssss?!”
  • After several drinks, they begin peeing into Sprite bottles
  • As we drive over the rutted dirt road they spill beer, Fanta/rubbing alcohol and pee all over.
  • The bus fords several rivers successfully. Then the driver stops the bus, asks us all to get out, wade across the river on our own and guns the engine over it.
  • The miners take turns carrying each other across and in the excitement of all the wading and drinking, one of them gets left behind
  • As night falls, the miners begin to drunkenly sign folk songs, getting louder every time someone shushes them.
  • The two babies sitting in front of us begin to cry
  • My seat doesn’t recline
  • Lather, rinse and repeat for sixteen hours.

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  1. Darcie

    i know you think me a travel weenie, but this THIS is why i want to go places via direct flight and then lay on the beach in the sunshine, half inebriated for a week. this is why. but also, i’m glad you made it through this… *hugs* to you my friend.

  2. kristine

    They weren’t singing “99 Bottles of Rubbing Alcohol and Fanta/Pee on the Wall,” were they?

  3. andlaughing

    you know, this is the second time i’ve heard of rubbing alcohol used as like… drinking alcohol.

    my BFF’s dad goes on hunting trips to the arctic north (canada eh?) like twice a year and hunts elk or whatever’s up there and um, APPARENTLY they take bottles of rubbing alcohol and turn a can of hairspray upside down and then plunge it into the cup of alcohol and let it completely spray out into the alcohol.

    i’m no scientist but it seems that both these instances are particularly hazardous to one’s health.

  4. Darcie

    &laughing! THAT IS THE CRAZIEST THING I'VE EVER HEARD! Hairspray and RUBBING ALCOHOL?! wouldn't you die from that?? holycrap.

  5. Kitty

    Well, the rubbing alcohol and Fanta sounds like a Cosmopolitan after reading about that little combo…

  6. Sal

    Oh lordy. Another one for the Sarah Von history books … thinking of you, lady.

  7. Young Werther

    Hey, it an experience right?

    Just like the time I flew Aeroflot into Moscow, escorted by MIGs, by sub-machine gun wielding soldiers, and almost getting run over by a black sedan in the Red Square.

  8. Amber

    Hilarious <3 and that's why we travel, right, for the miner stories? Glad you can laughh about it!

  9. lisa

    If they were drinking Fanta, where did the Sprite bottles come from? Just wonderin’.

  10. Sarah Von Bargen


    They were all and sundry with their beverages – fanta was just the most common mixer. I think they might have been peeing into a Pringles can at one point as well.


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