Cruz'ing Out of Bolivia
Trip Start Aug 31, 2010
28Trip End Dec 23, 2010
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The next day, Monday morning, our flight to the Bolivia/Brazil border town of Puerto Suarez left at 3pm, so we took taxis at 1pm and waited patiently to be called to the gate. After going through security (where Aaron had his beloved corkscrew apprehended) we waited to board our flight. And waited. And waited. The flight got pushed back several times before we heard the inevitable call “Vuelo 133 a Puerto Suarez ha estado cancelado”. You don’t need to know Spanish to know what that meant. So we went to talk to the AeroSur front desk agent who said it was cancelled due to bad weather in Puerto Suarez, which is fine, there’s nothing anyone can do about that. So Aaron and I asked when the flight would be rescheduled. Our answer? Friday. We were standing there talking to this lady about our cancelled flight on Monday to find out it’s been rescheduled for Friday. Only in Bolivia. So I ran to a local telephone booth and informed my office in Cuzco what had happened
So I grabbed the group (thank goodness it’s only 5 people!) and told our cab drivers to put the pedal to the metal and get us to the bus station rapidamente! We got there at about 5:30pm, I left my bags with some Kim and Stef and ran around like a madwoman trying to find an overnight bus to Puerto Suarez that hadn’t left yet. I finally found a piece of junk, I mean – bus, that left at 6, so I bought six seats. 3 other gringos that were supposed to be on our flight had followed us to the bus station and since they didn’t speak any Spanish just got tickets on our bus as well. When we were finally able to load our bus, I took one look around and told the passengers to make sure they weren’t using the overhead compartments on this bus. The seediness of the bus and the whole Santa Cruz bus station was probably an 11 on a scale of 1 to 10, so everyone put their carry-on bags down by their feet
I had heard horror stories about the road from Santa Cruz to Puerto Suarez, and I guess fate decided it was finally my turn to get to experience it. About an hour outside of Santa Cruz - Bolivia’s biggest city – the road just stopped. Disappeared. It turned into some sort of muddy, pot holed trail that no bus driver in his right mind would have tried to navigate. Luckily, our bus driver was a raging lunatic and took it at high speeds. Needless to say, sleep was futile. We hit some bumps so hard that you literally jumped out of your seat. Or on some other good ones your head would slam down onto your jaw so hard you probably lost some enamel. Finally, the beginning of the paved highway started around 3am and I could get a little bit of shut eye. It didn’t help that the entire bus was filled with dust and about 40 degrees Celsius, but by that time we were exhausted enough that sleeping in filth didn’t bother me. And so we arrived in Puerto Suarez. AeroSur cancelling the flight appeared to have been a good idea. It looked like the Big Bad Wolf had blown all the little shacks and trees down, so probably flying a Bolivian aircraft in the night before would have been a bad call. I’m not sure that I’ve ever been so filthy in my life, but we made it to the border, crossed without any (further) problems, and the tour continued right on course.