When Joe looked out the bus door he saw right into oblivion. Then he suddenly realized why all the others had got off the bus – in time.
– How long is this bus ride? We asked the man who sold us the tickets. -18 Hours, he answered briefly, while he clearly wrote the price we had paid on our paper tickets, and another, lower rate, on his part of the receipt. We growled and prepared for a bumpy and long night.
The bus had seen better days. The rain penetrated between gaps around the window and the seats were uncomfortable, but at least we were on our way to the next destination. There’s something about the feeling of moving on, coming to someplace new and hopefully exciting. We had been travelling around in Peru for the last three weeks. Our minds were full of memories of the lovely Matchu Picchu site that we had seen just a few days before. It helped. Now we were on our way from Cusco to Ayacucho. From there we would head on to Lima. Our Peruvian adventure was coming to an end.
The next day we were still sitting on this bumpy bus winding our way through a beautiful valley. It was when we were climbing up a hill that the bus stopped at an almost 360 degree bend.
We saw everybody jumping out of the bus. Some sitting down to pee and some continuing to walk around the bend. When looking out of the windows on the left side of the bus we saw it. A truck heading in the opposite direction had jammed in the middle of the hairpin turn. In an attempt to get out of there he had slid and made his situation worse. In addition the truck was in a position so we were unable to pass it. Our bus driver had to take a cold calculated decision to take a precarious route around the truck. He could … just make it.
We had registered the second backpacker couple in the very front by the driver and now just the four of us remained on the bus. Before our slow brains responded, the bus driver started to make his way around the truck. – So that’s why everyone was so quick to jump out, Joe realized, too late.
On the left side we had the big truck, and on the right side it went straight down into the beautiful valley. Wet, muddy road and the absence of barriers made our hearts beat faster. When Joe looked out of the bus door he saw nothing – the front was over the edge. I glanced at the picture of the Virgin Mary in front of the driver and thought of all the crosses I had seen along the road all day. I think no one in the bus breathed until we were safely back on the road, past the truck. When we arrived in Ayacucho late afternoon the trip had taken a total of 24 hours. We were just happy to have made it!