Bus Rides in South America 11


I am going to write more about the pros and cons of traveling the world mostly by bus, but as I just got done with a 58 hour trip from Cuzco, Peru to Santiago, Chile and its 7 a.m. here and I can´t get a hotel room for a few hours . . . I shall throw down a few thoughts.

Movies (or music) on the bus: For most people reading this back in the States, this might be an odd choice to start off a discussion of 10+ hour bus rides. You (and I before the trip) would figure that the biggest concerns are how to sleep and make sure your stuff isn´t stolen. For those of us that have taken some of these buses — there is no other place to start.

The first 24+ hour bus trip I took was from Guayaquil, Ecuador to Lima, Peru. I sat in one of the first few rows of the 2nd floor of the bus (some of them are two story jobs, with first class seats on the bottom floor, with the driver, and the bathroom down there and the regular seats — which are still nice — are up top). On configurations like this, since the driver is down below, there is a huge window up front where you can look out at the scenery and the oncoming traffic.

This is not always a good thing.

This particular bus driver was like almost all the drivers I have experienced in Latin America, which is to say, slightly insane. Double lines, signifying no-passing zones, are completely optional. In fact, I think most bus drivers just take them as challenges to try to pass multiple vehicles at once. Up hills. Around corners. Visibility to oncoming traffic?? Nah — the power the force will propel you to victory, Luke.

So my options were to watch this driving lesson (and some admitedly great scenery) out the ´big screen´of the front window, going from floor to ceiling, all the way from side to side on the bus or. . . . a remake of ´The Hitcher´ on the small television screen right above the window. O yea! And while we are talking about movies, let´s mention the volume. High. Very high. My iPod with the fancy earplugs that are supposed to drown out outside noises does generally work, if I put the music volume up high enough, except to drown out — loud screaming from people being murdered in horror movies.

Essentially my choice was to watch fictional people get killed on the small screen or to perhaps watch myself get killed in the big screen. Would the soundtrack of the movie somehow coincide with the live version action??

And while we are at it — why on Earth would anyone ever want to remake ´The Hitcher´?? Wasn´t the original movie bad enough? Is there really a need for an updated one? Hell, I don´t even think the original one is 20 years old yet.

´The Hitcher´was followed up by ´Die Hard 6´(or whatever the last one was — 6 feels about right) and then a Wayans Brothers movie that I am quite happy to have no idea what the title was. It was about one of the Wayans brothers playing a midget who poses as a small child to steal some stuff from a rich family that takes the ¨child¨ into their home. I´ve never been so happy to see a movie in Spanish, so I couldn´t follow the dialog.

That was the evening portion of the bus ride. The next day brought ´Severance,´which is a U.K. slasher film. The first scene in this picture was a group of people traveling — in a BUS — that gets lost in the middle of nowhere. Obviously everyone leaves the bus and all but about three of the dozen people die horrible deaths in the next two hours. After that film came ´Shutter,´which I thought might be a good picture. I recognized a couple of the actors, though I don´t know their names. Turns out that it was a Japanese horror movie — one of those types that pretends to be some big psychological twister.

Next movie was ´Dead Silence.´ First, I´m not kidding. These films all came back to back to back. Second, you get get the jist from the title, in this case a ventriloquist´s puppet kills off whomever gets it his/its way. I moved to a seat directly under the TV, so that I couldn´t see it, put my iPod volume on high, and tried to read a book until we got to Lima.

On the music front, here was the playlist from one part of my bus ride a few days before from Lima to Nazca (the songs were listed on the TV screen as they played, so I was able to write them down): Alejandro Sanz, Bon Jovi, Christina Aguilera, Erasure, Flash Dance, Johann Sebastian Bach and Leann Rimes. Played alphabetitically, of course.

Quite an interesting mix.

My latest bus ride was a 30 hour trip from the border of Peru and Chile to Santiago, Chile. We left at about midnight, so we only got one movie last night — ´The Dark Night´ in Spanish. I have now seen this movie once in a U.S. theater and three times in a bus, in Spanish. I really didn´t like it any of those times, but at least it wasn´t a horror flick right before I fell asleep (O yea — forgot to mention two things: first, I have an incredibly active imagination, which is why I hate horror movies, and second, the common side effect to the anti-malaria medication that I am taking is that it promotes very active dreaming.)

As we woke yesterday morning for a full day on the bus — the first time I was to go a full calender day, from midnight to midnight, on a bus — we got some other big budget U.S. movie in Spanish, with Spanish subtitles. I frankly can´t remember it, but I was happy it wasn´t a horror movie. Then we started a TV festival for the rest of the day. Three television shows that were shown back to back to back, and then another episode of each in sequence again. And again. And again.

The first show was a Latin America show called ´Gags.´ It was a latin version of ´Candid Camera.´ Funny little pranks and stunts pulled on people on the street. It was actually pretty amusing and easy to follow, since they were all sight gags and dialog didn´t matter. Then came repeats of one my favorite shows, ´House´, and in English to boot. VERY nice. It gave me a bit of a home-on-the-couch feeling. After ´House´came repeats of. . .

´Fresh Prince of Bel-Aire.´

Is Will Smith just Chile´s answer to France´s love for Jerry Lewis?? I will let you make the call.


About Michael Hodson

I’m an attorney that took off on my birthday in December of 2008 to circumnavigate the globe without ever getting on an airplane. After 16 months, 6 continents and 44 countries, I made it all the way back home. Right now, I am back on the road writing about it all.

11 thoughts on “Bus Rides in South America

  • SoloTraveler

    LOL — its actually been pretty easy. The buses are pretty nice. Now, check back in Africa when I take some long bus rides there.

  • Ayngelina

    the movies are always terrible, why?? are terrible movies cheaper? I see the good ones dirt cheap in the mercados, why choose The Bodyguard?And why is the man in the seat behind me singing along with Whitney Houston?

  • Sofia

    Haha an interesting music mixture indeed..!The one time I bought one of those fancy first class tickets on a bus I had water dripping down on my head from the air con throughout the whole trip, at least it wasn't a 54 hour drive – crazy long!

  • Leslie (Downtown Traveler)

    Hehe. I love taking the bus in South America. Usually the top end (or top 2 tier) buses are super luxe– better than an economy class airplane seat. And the cheesy old action movies are always a bonus 🙂 We also crossed overland from Chile to Peru.

  • Charu

    Funny story and my only bus experience along this vein has been the Jitney rides from NJ to NYC and also bus rides in India — imagine all your movies substituted by Bollywood film songs form A to Z.

  • Angela

    lol this is funny, I know what you mean by the view on the “big screen” of the bus… Here in China when I casually sat on the front seat of the bus going to class I arrived in school with my heart racing…

  • Lisa @chickybus

    Very amusing! My favorite line: “Would the soundtrack of the movie somehow coincide with the live version action??” Sometimes, when on these buses, I’m not sure what’s worse!

  • Arianwen Morris

    Oh my! I am in for a treat!
    I can’t watch horror movies. Why would they force them on people on a bus journey? Perhaps it will harden me up…

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