I had no plans to document my bus journey from Asuncion, Paraguay to Santa Cruz, Bolivia. I knew it was going to be a long 24 hour bus ride, but just wanted to get through it and not think about writing things down. I was at the terminal hours before the departure time to take advantage of the free WiFi. I had not had much WiFi the week I spent in Paraguay and it was a nice break, but I needed my fix. I tweeted that I would be going on a long 24 hour journey and one of my readers replied to please document my thoughts because she loved my diary entries. So I thought why not and am glad I did because it turned out to be one of the craziest bus rides I have ever taken. Here are all the thoughts I had on my bus ride from Asuncion to Santa Cruz that turned out to be 28 hours instead of 24 hours.
7:35pm – I’m on the bus and its left the terminal already. Ummmm it wasn’t supposed to leave until 8pm. Sucks for people who will miss it. Also omg this bus is like falling apart. It has no AC, the seats are shit and it’s squeaking already on a paved road. Oh lord the next 24hrs are gonna be an adventure. The good thing is I think 2 other backpackers got on so I’m not alone, but the bus is very very empty. Maybe we are going to another terminal. I have no clue and fuck I hope this is the right bus. I did say to Santa Cruz, Bolivia.
7:41pm – OMG I’m sweating already. We are stopped and picking up more people. That makes me feel better. My seat is so uncomfortable though. I was already dreading this bus ride and now even more so. It’s gonna be an extra adventure because we also have to do the border crossings. I think we do the exit procedures of Paraguay in the early morning and then who knows about Bolivia. OMG I also hope I have no problem getting in with my Mexican passport. Okay I just need to breathe and let things be. As long as I arrive safe and sound to Santa Cruz, Bolivia I will be happy.
7:47pm – Wow, they just handed out dinner. I have no clue what it is but I’m shocked I didn’t even think to ask if dinner would be served. I assumed it didn’t include meals. I bought a big bottle of water, chips, cookies and some candy to hold me over. Just a few hours ago at 5pm I had a huge meal that my friend made to hold me over through the night and I’m not hungry, but I’m a fatass and will probably eat this in a little bit because I don’t know how to have food and not eat it.
8:09pm – I’m drenched in sweat from waiting to go at this random stop, but we are finally moving. Thankfully the window next to me opens up. Also ummm I just saw the driver and its an old man and he got on with a cigarette in his hand lit. Ahh and this is just the beginning. Please oh please let’s just arrive there safe. Hopefully I can pass out soon and won’t even know what’s happening.
8:40pm – Yeah, it didn’t last long, I’ve finished the dinner already, it was actually very good. It was chicken tenders with fries. Way better than any of the three meals I got on my long ass bus ride from Bariloche to El Chalten in Patagonia and this is half the price. I hate that I’ll eat even when I’m full. I think this week in Paraguay I’ve gained back the 2 kilos I lost while I was sick in Rio de Janeiro. Oh well got a lot of walking and hikes ahead of me in Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia.
Fuck I can’t believe I’m half way done with South America.
9:13pm – They’ve finally turned off the lights in the bus. I’m exhausted, but can’t fall asleep. What’s crazy is in the campo I was going to sleep at 8 & 9pm at the latest. Ahhh life in the country side of Paraguay was beyond amazing. I seriously loved those 6 days so much. Okay I’m gonna try to go to sleep. It would be amazng to sleep until we get to immigration on the Paraguayan side.
9:31pm – Lights were switched on a few minutes ago and cops entered the bus to check things. They asked to see my daypack bag and well I opened it and showed them what I have in it. It’s the bag I don’t let leave my side because it has my most important things. Anyways I still can’t sleep, but I’m trying. Why is it that on short bus rides I fall asleep like nothing, but long bus rides I have trouble. I don’t get it.
11:22pm – Ugh I was dead asleep, but we stopped again and another cop got on to check things. I don’t know how may check points we will have to pass. Now I hope I can go back to sleep.
12:30am – OMG nooooo I’m all caught up on Humans of New York!!! So I woke up a little while ago to use the bathroom and checked the time on my fitbit and saw that the battery was about to die so decided to take out my laptop to charge it a bit and while doing that caught up on HONY. See I arrived at the terminal almost 2 hours before my departure because it had free WiFi and wanted to be online for a bit because I haven’t been online much at all for a week. So I of course opened HONY and scrolled all the way down to where I haven’t read it and am just now read it. I know I’m a genius. Oh & if you’re not following Humans of New York you’re seriously missing out on the best thing on the Internet. Just check it out. You’ll thank me later!!!
Okay let me try going back to sleep. Still have 20hrs to go.
2:31am – I’ve been sleeping on and off. The last few hours have been very very bumpy because it looks like the road is not paved. It’s mostly dirt road and the bus keeps zig zagging through it all to avoid the huge pot holes. You know I don’t understand how in many countries paved roads to connect major cities is just not a priority. I know I know I’m traveling through developing countries, but still.
4:23am – Just got back from doing immigration on the Paraguay side. They turned on the lights and woke us up at 3:55am. We got off at 4am and am back now. That was fast. I got my exit stamp and I’m ready to carry on to Bolivia. I’m so happy I have a Mexican Passport, it’s saved me a lot of money. In the end will have saved me about $400. Yeah that’s a lot. It really sucks to be from the USA in South America because 4 countries charge a lot for the visas. I’m not gonna lie I wish I could use my US passport because I’d love all the stamps in that passport to fill it up, jajaja. Yeah my goal is to fill it up before it expires in 2019. Anyway it’s so nice to be a dual citizen!!! Now we carry on and apparently Bolivias customs is 8 hours away! So back to sleep I go.
6:38am – It’s raining and the road is now just a lot of mud. I hope we don’t get stuck. I’ve been sleeping on and off, but I’m still exhausted. I’d be happy if I can sleep about 3 more hours. Let’s see if I can.
6:46am – The bus is stopped in the middle of the road and the bus drivers got off to look at the road. This is fucking crazy. I mean seriously the road looks horrible. I’m glad it’s flat land out here because if it was mountain I’d be scared. Yeah it’s still raining and it’s getting a bit humid and hot in the bus. Ugh and we still have over 12 hours to go and thanks to the rain maybe even longer.
7:02am – We moved a bit, but again we are stopped in the middle of the road. I swear I think the rain is following me. I have had a lot of rain since I got to Brasil and even in Paraguay I only had two days of sun the entire week I was there. I hope the rain stops following me once I am in Bolivia and the rest of my trip. So yeah I don’t know what to do with myself right now.
7:22am – We are still stopped in the middle of the road that is honestly in the middle of no where. I have no clue when we are going to get going. I stuck my head out the window to read a sign and it looks like we are 198km to the border of Bolivia. Yeah I’m never gonna make it to Santa Cruz. I also just now took off my money belt because it’s so uncomfortable. I’ll put it on when we get near the city. I’m also getting hungry. I don’t want to eat any of the snacks I brought because it’s so early and well who knows how long I’ll be on this bus.
7:29am – It looks like a huge 18 wheeler is stuck in the middle of the road blocking all lanes of the road. The lady in front of me told me and said check out your window and yup I did and in the distance it’s there. Now we have to wait for it to get moved and who knows how long that’s gonna be.
8:48am – Just woke up from sleeping for an hour. Yeah we haven’t moved at all. The truck is still stuck there and the road is horrible. I’m about to get down and take some photos. I also ate some of my cookies. I’m starting to get hungry.
9:26am – Literally as I write this a tractor is pulling us because the road is impassable ahead. It’s actually quite scary because the bus is skidding back and forth and I’m actually scared it will flip over. So for now let me focus on this and I’ll write in a bit once things are better.
9:32 – We are stopped again. So anyway while we were stopped for a while everyone decided to get off and stretch a bit and I talked with the two other backpackers. They’re from Holland and one is traveling a few months the other only 3 weeks. We took photos and then they gave us breakfast a fruit juice and cookies and then everyone except the 3 of us threw the trash on the road. It’s something that drives me crazy about the developing world. People just throw trash on the road. Anyway we tried holding on to it, but everyone was looking at us like are you gonna bring that back on the bus? And well we honestly had no where to put it so we threw it in the pile of trash they created and left it on the road. Then finally a tractor came and is now pulling us. We still have a very long way to go so let’s see what happens later on.
11:16am – No joke moments after finishing writing the above the tractor had left us and we were on our way and bam the bus slid and was now blocking the entire road. We were stuck in the mud, but luckily were able to get out and carry on for a little bit. Minutes later again we got stuck in the mud blocking the road and this time a line of vehicles was waiting to pass from the other direction. They tried and tried and tried and the bus just wouldn’t move at all. Finally they called all the guys to get off the bus and help push the bus and finally it was able to go. We then carried on and after that have been fine on the road. The sun is now out and we have been going almost two hours without stopping. I slept a good chunk of that. Hopefully soon we make it to Bolivia and then immigration and then SantaCruz tonight in one piece.
2:06pm – OMG IM STARVING. I’ve ate a few of my cookies and some of my Doritos, but that’s it I’m still so hungry. I don’t know if they’re gonna feed us or not and I didn’t ask. We have been going for hours at a decent speed but still feel like we are in the middle of no where. I have been asleep the majority of the time. We have yet to pass Bolivia immigration so yeah still think we are far away from Santa Cruz. The good thing is the road seems better and the sun is out so that helps a lot to dry the roads.
2:44pm – Just got back on the bus. We arrived at the Bolivia Customs office and they made us get our luggage and then we had to open it in front of a guard to show him what we had. We also had to fill out the immigration form. I asked how long until the immigration office and he said about an hour. I then asked from here how much longer to Santa Cruz and he said about 9 hours. So yeah this is gonna be way longer than 24 hours and well I may not be arriving until midnight. Which makes me angry cus I hate arriving to cities late at night. I then asked the bus driver if we were gonna get lunch and he said no. So yeah I have to save the little food that I have for later today even though I’m starving. Hopefully at some point we stop somewhere.
3:51pm – I’m back on the bus. We have done immigration. It was easy and I have my stamp now and am only allowed 30 days in Bolivia. That’s actually perfect because I only wanted to spend a month here anyway. I’m so freaking happy I have a Mexican passport. It’s saved me a lot of money and hassle on applying for visas. So after going through immigration I had lunch! Yes I ate. There was a little kitchen stand next to the office that had soup or rice and lentils. I had the rice and lentils and now I’m happy and full. The bus just took off and we are finally on the last leg of the trip to Santa Cruz. I’ve heard different times some say 6 hours others say 8 hours so let’s see how this goes and when I arrive.
4:58pm – They just handed out dinner. It’s fried chicken with rice and fries. I find it shocking how good these meals are. Now I have to wait and eat it until at least 7pm because according to the guy we still have 8 more hours to go. I’m honestly fine at the moment. I just hate the fact that I may arrive at or after midnight but I know I will be fine. My hostel is only 2km away from the terminal so not that far.
So the past hour I’ve spent it staring out the window and watching the scenery. The sun has already set and it’s getting dark. The scenery is actually beautiful it’s lush green with mountains in the distance. I was just staring out thinking about my life. On days like this I start thinking the life I’m living really is crazy, but I’ll stop there because yes I can go on and on.
5:15pm – We stopped at a gas station and pumped gas. I’m glad because no joke just a while ago I was thinking we haven’t stopped to get gas. Now we are on our way again. This is like a never ending ride.
5:41pm – Oops I ate the dinner already. It was good. Now I hope I pass out until we arrive in Santa Cruz. Ahhh that would be amazing, but doubt that will happen.
6:56pm – Yeah I haven’t been able to sleep, but I’m trying. I just noticed that it’s lightning outside, like a lot. I seriously hope it doesn’t rain. If it does it’s going to make the rest of the bus ride longer and scarier. Please rain hold off just a few more hours.
9:17pm – Just woke up. So yeah it’s now been almost 26 hours since we left and it doesn’t look like we are anywhere near the city yet. So yeah still got a few more hours to go. Ugh at this point I just want to shower. I feel so gross already. I also hope that the hostel reception is open 24/7 because if I arrive and if not who knows if I’ll be able to get my bed and I hope they don’t think I’m a no show. Ugh this is a pain and I know I’m not done with long bus rides just yet. I have a few more here in South America.
10:27pm – OMG ANOTHER CHECK POINT. I swear we have gone through at least 10 or more so far. And I keep tossing and turning up in here. I can’t get comfortable. I’m starting to get restless I just wanna arrive already. Fuck.
11:43pm – They turned on the lights and everyone has their things ready. I hope this means we are almost there. Everyone looks like shit and didn’t realize it’s only about 10 people left on the bus. Can’t believe it’s been over 28 hours on this crappy bus but we almost have made it.
11:53 – EEEEEeeeeeee over 28 hours later we finally made it!!!
I hate arriving in a new place at night. I try to avoid it all cost because I feel it’s always a bit more dangerous at night then during the day. Especially at bus terminals of major cities where people are always out to get you when you are least expecting it. I arrived in Santa Cruz and luckily had no problems at all getting a cab and getting to my hostel. I arrived well past midnight and luckily the door man was able to check me in and I was able to shower, get online a bit and go straight to bed. This bus ride though hands down is one of my worst transportation days ever. I know it may not have sounded that bad, but seriously 28hours on a shitty bus on mostly unpaved road is exhausting. It was even worse when we all had to get down and get the bus out of the mud. We all got back on the bus and all our shoes and the bus floor was disgusting full of mud. This still doesn’t top my nightmare train ride in India. Yes that will always be the worst. I still remember getting off the train crying. Ahhh anyway well that was my ride in lots of detail. What do you think? What has been your worst bus ride?