My favourite is without a doubt the 159. Pedro preferred the 59. I suppose it’s all about where you want to go as they both end up in the same place; Streatham.
Pedro and I.
However, I jump ahead. I started my journey towards Bolivia having narrowly avoided having some geezer pickpocket me whilst walking through the station (he was actually trying to open my bag as we walked but cant think of a word for that – pickpocket will suffice) so I spent the next couple of hours being overly cautious with my belongings. As always, I got to the station with plenty of time to spare so had time to ponder and take a couple of pictures;
Waiting for the bus
Turning up early does not guarantee success. A good understanding of Spanish helps too – especially when they change the ‘platform’ and only announce it in Spanish. The cheek of it! Luckily some chap came and found me and asked me to board as they were waiting for me.. I guess having a gringo name and looking pale and pasty has some advantages.
At first there was virtually nobody on the coach and I had the entirety of downstairs to myself however that changed an hour later at our first stop when the coach filled. A young chap called Pedro came and sat next to me and after a brief introduction and an explanation of my standard of Spanish it turns out that he spoke pretty good English and that he had lived in London. In Streatham Hill no less (my former home for 7 years) and he had work in some kind of construction in East Dulwich. Our conversation was somewhat restricted by language barriers, but we did talk awhile on the glory of London buses.
The journey went something like this;
1st hour; window watching
2nd hour; chatting to Perdo
3-6; reading followed by a unexpected meal on board (meat balls of some kind with mash – quite nice!)
7-13; sleeping (kinda)
13; short break to stretch legs at 06:00
14-25; breakfast (sandwich) reading and chatting to Perdo
26-29; Boarder customs – see below
37; arrive at Santa Cruz, bid farewell to Pedro and seek hostel..
Bolivian customs; ok, this is worthy of a note simply because it was so unorganised. Imagine a bridge with buildings down both sides; a side for paperwork, the other for customs/searching. Between the two a road with is fairly busy with people crossing. You park up and do your paper work first, then drive through and if you get asked to stop, you get searched. So far it seems pretty organised.
However, then don’t let people in the buildings so they have to queue in the road, TWICE. Once for departure from Argentina paperwork, the other for entry to Bolivia paperwork (or visa versa). Then add lots of coaches, meaning lots of people queuing, in the road whilst other coaches and cars go through both ways. Add to that, if you get stopped to search, they simply stop the traffic and people behind you have to wait whilst you unload your car or coach of all belongings which are then opened IN THE ROAD, getting everything covered in dirt and dust (when I say road, think dried dirt track). THERE WERE PEOPLE EVERYWHERE. Goodness knows what they were using the building for but it wasn’t for people to keep out of the way. And the searches were pathetic. Open, dislodge top time, close.
Part of me craves to shout at people and organise it all!
¿qué estás haciendo?!!!!
Anyhow, I resisted that urge and went with the flow. Probably for the best. I am now in BOLIVIA! 🙂