Well, the same old type of post, updating where we’ve been and what we’ve done, has gotten a little boring to write, so I want to split those up with some new types of posts on other things. This first one is just going to be a little recap of all the crazy ‘hard treks’ we’ve done on this trip to give an idea what it sometimes takes to bus around South America.
The flight to Montevideo, way back in the beginning of January, seemed excruciatingly long: about 6 hours from San Francisco to San Salvador, 5 hours to Lima and then 8 hours to Montevideo. Even after that, our first bus ride in Argentina, 20 hours from Buenos Aires to Putero Madryn, was still awful. Since then we’ve come a very long way and had to grow accustomed to hard trekkin’. To be honest, besides the smell, multiple day/overnight buses in a row don’t much faze us at all anymore. The following are a few examples of what I mean.
Around the middle of March we found ourselves faced with a challenge: John had a flight out of Lima, Peru in only a couple weeks, we wanted to have the chance to visit Machu Picchu with him, and we were still on the coast of Chile, just east of the capital. We had to get to Peru as quickly as possible so we took a 32 hour bus from Valparaiso, Chile to Arica, Chile. We spent a short night in the strange border town, got up early to cross into Peru, and drove another 8 hours to Arequipa. It was much cheaper than a flight and we got a chance to see a lot of the terrain along the way (most of it bleak- we didn’t feel we’d missed much). It was strange to arrive somewhere by bus but still have so many things change: climate, culture, currency, cost, etc. Looking back though, that trek was nothing.
After I got altitude sickness while trekking TOO hard in the Colca Canyon of Peru, Karl and I took an overnight bus from Arequipa to Cusco and met the rest of the crew. In Cusco we spent the whole day getting things sorted for our trip to Machu Picchu and made our way there that night. After long bus and train rides we got to Aguas Calientes after 11pm. We were up the next day by 4 to beat the rush into the park, trekked hard to the park and in the park all day, and finally got back to Cusco via train and mini-bus around 2:30am. We all got to sleep in the next day and Karl and I got to relax for a while but John, Gilmer and Lisa had an overnight bus to Lima and flights home not long after. That’s the way to end a trip of hard trekkin’.
Later, upon leaving Bolivia and heading toward Tess, we were pushed to our ever-growing limit yet again. We surprised even ourselves when after a miserable overnight bus from Sucre to Santa Cruz, Bolivia, and a whole day spent getting our visas squared away, we thought a 24-hour bus to Asuncion that same night was a good idea. It turned out to be not so bad- once we got to Asuncion we didn’t even feel the need to hit the sack or shower right away and went out for some drinks.
Still, all these hard treks seemed like a warm-up for what we did when we left Paraguay. We wanted to get back to the coast of Peru as quickly as possible, but flights were much too expensive, so we settled on back-tracking. Back-tracking HARD. It started in the campo, around 4am after the pig-slaughtering birthday. We got a 2 hour bus back into civilization, followed by a 4.5 hour bus back to Asuncion. There we bought tickets for the 24-hour bus that night, back to Santa Cruz. We spent the day in town with Tess and Rach, saying our goodbyes eventually (but not without spending another hour on buses around town). We got into Santa Cruz, Bolivia, the next day around 8:45pm. There were no buses leaving that late to La Paz, but we didn’t want to stay the night in Santa Cruz so we got the overnight 10-hour bus to Cochabamba that was leaving in 20 minutes. The next morning, we spent about 40 minutes in the Cochabamba terminal before getting an 8-hour day bus to La Paz. We found the cheapest place near the terminal to spend a short night (only because the Peruvian border was closed) and got up early the next morning to make our 7am, 12-hour bus back to Arequipa, Peru. In Arequipa there was an overnight bus leaving for Ica, our final destination, 30 minutes after our arrival. We had to take it. We finally got to Ica, Peru, the next morning around 8am. All told, we spent 75 hours on buses over the course of only four and half days. That’s trekkin’ hard.
Nowadays any amount of time on a bus seems doable, especially with some bearable books and music for the ride. It’s strange to think back to when a quick 6 hour hop down to LA along nice, flat, straight I-5 was something to dread. We find ourselves wondering if (or when) we’ll readopt that mentality when we get back home.