The overnight bus ride from Medellin to Cartagena was the longest, and by far the most dreadful bus ride of my entire time in South America. Imagine 14 hours of being trapped in what felt like a theme park simulator. A simulator that is malfunctioning. The others, including Lindsay and 5th Wheel Phil (more on him later), somehow managed to get comfortable in the bus seats. Morgan and Meg were wrapped in sweaters, beanies, and blankets, and quickly fell asleep and dreamed away the journey.
For Chris and I, it was the most uncomfortable night ever. It was very cold, and he had no jacket, I had only a thin sweater, and neither of us had blankets. We tried to cuddle, but the hard plastic armrest stabbed either his face or mine. There was a movie playing at the front, but it was in Spanish. It was night outside and even though the curtains were drawn, we could still see flashes of white light from the corners and along the tops of the curtains. Occasionally the warning flashes of red lights, blue lights and orange lights replaced the white. This was alarming. Red and blue and orange rarely mean “Hey! Everything is just fine! Have a pleasant journey!”, no matter what country you are traveling through. So yes, more fear.
And it was terrifying. This bus seemed to be barreling down the mountain at the speed of light. The bus was swinging back and forth down the mountain sides, over crater-sized potholes, and around sharp bends. Not being able to see out the windows only heightened my sense of panic and overran my imagination. I pictured 30 degree turns along dropping cliffs, and scanned the backs of the heads of the other passengers trying to determine who I would be trapped under when the bus rolled over and down the mountain.
The inside of the bus reminded me of the inside of a plane. All I could see was this tunnel of seats and flashing lights and all I could feel was the turbulent rumble of the bus. The front of the vehicle was sloping downwards, which only increased the sensation that we were hurtling chaotically towards our deaths.
We didn’t have wine on the bus this time, so Chris and I found very little to be funny for very long. Curling up fetus-like for one minute, it wasn’t long before my neck cricked, my feet lost feeling, or my arms got cold. We twisted back and forth, this way and that, curling up, stretching out, cuddling for warmth, then hurting from the armrest. It was absolutely freezing cold. The entire time Chris and I were also trying to keep our valuable cameras and bags wrapped securely around our waists, shoulders, and in between our feet. It was so uncomfortable, we were either going to laugh or cry.
We laughed, then tried to sleep. Then I wanted to cry. I think Chris slept more than I, but I don’t know. He might have just had his eyes closed, trying to shut out the terror. I remember looking with envy and irritated resentment at my other friends, sleeping cherub-like in the bus seats. Chris and I were sharing (hogging) my sweater for warmth.
It totally sucked, and it sucked all night right through 7am.
It was the worst Thanksgiving ever.