A Moment of Truth

Two nights ago as I was squatting over the piss-and-TP-covered hole in the bus bathroom, wearing underwear that were already turned inside out, and holding myself up against the swaying bus with my elbows to avoid touching anything with my hands, I had to laugh. A year ago when I mentally committed to this trip, THIS is exactly what I had in mind. Exiting the bathroom – which actually had toilet paper AND soap – I sat back down in my semi-cama seat next to my new buddy Zoe, popped in my earbuds, and prayed for sleep. Unfortunately, the gentleman directly behind us was afflicted with terrible sleep apnea, even sitting up, and more or less created an earthquake with every off-rhythm breath. A few minutes in I was laughing again. I opened my eyes as Zoe turned to me and asked, “Do you have anything we can throw at him?”
I laughed. “Only my pillow, but then he’d only stop for a moment AND I’d have no pillow.”
“That bastard.” She replied. We waited, awake, knowing we were close to the first stop and might be able to move when some people got off. A few minutes later, the man sitting next to earthquake-snoring-man sat up, looked at us giggling, and with a look of sheer hopelessness, put his head in his hands in defeat. We laughed harder.
At this point I have to admit two things. 1) I must be crazy. I chose that 24 hour bus trip over a relatively short and cheap flight because I would rather suffer through snoring, the incessant opening and closing of the bathroom door, and being stuck on a bus for 24 hours, simply because I didn’t feel like going to the airport and dealing with the hassle of flying. 2) I am REALLY glad Zoe was with me. While I have discovered the merits of traveling alone, and I happily signed up for that, it’s always easier to laugh as opposed to cry when you have somebody knee-deep with you. She also had the genius idea of bringing take-out sushi for our first meal, so we started out fresh and full and happy.
In the end, we were able to move up a row, where I took my magic ½ pill of trazadone, popped in my Mellow playlist, and slept quite fitfully for about 6 hours. Just that one row made all the difference, and I’m STILL happy we chose the bus instead of flying.
Upon our arrival to magical San Pedro de Atacama, we had no reservation for a hostel (oops), but were able to secure beds relatively soon, shower, and wash some clothes by hand. And it was all worth it! Today I set out with a hilarious and dedicated group of people I met in Mendoza to cross the Atacama Desert of Chile, into the Salar de Uyuni of Bolivia, in a 4×4 Land Cruiser. What else could be better? We enjoyed a beautiful 3 course meal at an open-air restaurant, did our grocery shopping, and readied our bags before bed.
More to come on the Salar crossing, as well as about 5 posts of catch-up from the past month. Sorry for the delay and thanks for your patience. Cheers and Suerte!

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