May 2014, Bolivia
After spending 3 days in a jeep with six people/in a blizzard/freezing, I couldn't wait to stay in one place for a while and get some sleep. I decided to take the first nightbus out of Uyuni to La Paz, Bolivia's capital. I'd been having headaches, unable to sleep, trouble breathing: altitude sickness. I was chewing coca leaves, drinking coca tea and eating all the coca candy I could get my hands on but it didn't help, I was catching my breath every two steps and grunting like a 98-year man old with a failing oxygen tank. Uyuni looked eerie at night (power outage) and I couldn't help losing my cool since I really can't see well in the dark. I kept running into people, buildings and small animals until I found the bus and my seat. The bus was as cold as a fridge, but luckily I was still wearing all my clothes at the same time since I'd been freezing my ass off at the salt plains- lots of layers. There were mainly smelly local men on the bus & a few tourists, frozen and a bit scared too. We took off and minutes later we were on a mountain road, stuck in a SANDSTORM. After dodging the greater part of a blizzard 2 days earlier, I wasn't thrilled about the potential
'Dutch Tourist Dead by Sandstorm: Identification Difficult due to Insane Amounts of Clothing' newspaper headline.
Hours later we found a way out of the sand, left the highway for a dirt road to a little village and were greeted by a handful of locals with head torches (no electricity) in traditional clothing. It was the scariest thing I'd seen in a while. Other tourists shared this feeling: we weren't told we would stop along the way so it began to feel like a bad horror movie: 'Tourists survive sandstorm only to get eaten by Last Tribe of Bolivian Cannibals'. Maybe they'd spare me, undoing me of 6 layers of clothing would probably not be worth the trouble. The French couple a row behind me looked tastier anyway...
1. No no no no seriously help help HELP.
2. How can it be so dark? Where is the moon? Do they have a moon in Bolivia? Of course they do just not right now.
3. Focus Merel, just focus on getting some water in that bucket. And pray you won't fall into the well. Easy does it.
4. Water everywhere but I made it! I'll go for the toilet on the far right. *Location, location.*
5. If I close the door entirely I can't see ANYTHING, I'll just leave it open a bit.
6. I mean it's not like there's anyone here- this isn't the time to be a prude.
8. What's that sound? Is that heavy breathing? Is someone there? Hello?
9. Oh my god there's someone here.
10. 'We've got a moaner!'
11. Not funny Merel, I'm NOT being funny.
12. I mean, I think I usually am, but this isn't exactly the time now is it?!
13. What if they forget about me and leave? All my stuff is on that bus- WHY do I love to travel alone again?
14. I need to get back on that bus!
15. Never mind the bucket I need to pull up those pants.
16. My god how many layers am I wearing? 4?
17. 5. No, 6.
18. WHY is he moaning? What can he see? Me?
19. Should I be able to see him?
20. Come on just get out of the stall don't trip-
21. WHO the F*CK left a bucket outside the door?
22. Well that would've been me, so never mind.
23. Okay THINK -I can't see much but I know we went through a tunnel and turned right.
24. So I'll find the tunnel and turn left.
25. RIGHT. I mean right since I'm on the opposite side. Gosh.
26. Found the tunnel- please don't let me trip and hit my head against the wall, I'll forget who I am, the bus will leave and NOBODY here will know who I am or know what language I speak including myself so I'll have no choice but to become a Bolivian citizen and before you know it I'll be toothless, smelly and in a traditional dress with a head torch, greeting innocent tourists in the middle of the night with my pet llama. Well, that escalated quickly!
27. Would I need a permit to get a llama? What does a llama eat? I should read into that when I get back home.
28. I'll name him Alejandro. He'll be my spitting image. GET IT?
29. I should really improve my Spanish (just in case).
30. See it's starting already, losing my mind in a tunnel.
Apparently I dropped my scarf, when my neighbour tried to put it back on my lap he almost gave me a heart attack and I almost gave him a sucker punch.
I apologised three times in my best Spanish, turned around in my seat again and told the French 'No, it was terrifying.'