On Thursday night we caught the last night bus of our trip, from Sucre to Santa Cruz in the easter lowlands of Bolivia. In the last hours of daylight the road was spectacular: winding down a steep valleyside along a dusty road, and then lightening in every direction as night came, a thunder storm which never seemed to end (and brought very little rain to us, which was good because most of the road was dirt).
“I´m not going to sleep at all tonight”, said Phil.
“I´m going to stay awake and watch the lightening”.
But the storm ended in the evening, and he was very sound asleep when the bus broke down at 2am, blocking a hairpin turn on a very dusty stretch of road up on a hillside in the middle of nowhere. By the time I got out to have a look, there were 7 buses ahead of us and three behind us. Everyone was suprisingly calm: I think this kind of thing happens a lot on this stretch of road. They blew dirt off the engine and did some grunt work beneath the rear drive, but it seemed to be an ignition fault.
After about 90 minutes, Phil woke up – just in time to help out as a huge crowd of people pushed the bus along the road, clearing it for other traffic. Suddenly we were alone with our broken-down bus at 3:30 in the morning.
Then a truck came by … and then another bus, and this one stopped and allowed us to hitch onto it with a tow-pole. Suddenly the bus was jump started, and we were back on the road, with no further problems.
The entire twenty-hour trip to Santa Cruz was lightened by Isabel, the woman sitting behind me who befriended me and repeatedly launched into detailed explanations (in Spanish) on the dinasour footprints, pre-Inca ruins, the problems with globalization and everything in between. 75% of it was victim to my bad Spanish, but I understood enough to know that she really knew what she was talking about: she works for some kind of tourism NGO in Sucre.