I’m on a bus on my way to Uyuni.
We left La Paz at around 9pm. The tour guide at the front of the special tourist bus (you pay a little more for this luxury) is mumbling something over the loud engine about wearing your seatbelt and not putting heavy items in the overhead bins because they might fall out and hurt you. I don’t pay much attention, because I’m tired and really can’t hear her. I listen just enough to hear her say that it’s a 10-12 hour bus ride and that there will be a bus-driver change in Oruro (about 4 hours from La Paz). Then I fall asleep.
Four hours later, though, I’m definitely no longer sleeping. I feel like I’m inside a blender. My abs are getting a serious workout while they try to keep my body in its seat.
As my new would-be six-pack starts to form, I take a look around. Kim is sleeping to my left, with her face mask and ear plugs, seemingly unphased. There are soft green lights above each seat row that remind me of a space ship; or some sort of post-apocalyptic disaster survival vehicle, I’m not sure.
And yep, I have to pee.
The bus slows, but only just to align itself to attack a massive bump in the road. The two Australian guys behind us jolt awake in confusion and I feel that tickle feeling in my stomach that I usually only get on rollercoasters. What the hell is going on?
Twenty minutes go by, and I still have to pee. Kim finally wakes up and we notice that the windows are frozen solid; should have brought my ice scraper from Canada.
We jitter around for another 15 minutes when the shaking suddenly slows to a smooth ride, and you can hear everyone’s thoughts all at once. A couple of brave souls get up to go to the bathroom. One man in an ugly hipster sweater manages to get there, just in time for us to hit a new patch of what I can only imagine is not a road, but just plain old wilderness. The bus can’t possibly be on a road!
Ugh, now I bet there’s pee all over the seat. (Maybe not though, ugly-sweater hipster seems respectable enough …)
Kim says she’s glad we’re moving now because it keeps her warm. “That’s probably why they make the road like this”, she says, “to keep the tourists warm.”
I still have to pee.
I watch people try to get up to grab sweaters, because the layer of ice on the windows is now so thick you can’t even really scratch it off. One man manages to grasp his sweater just as we traverse another giant bump – he topples immediately backward into his seat and on top of his seat-mate.
About 20 minutes later, we stop. Perfect pee time, but there’s someone in there again.
At some point during the wash cycle, Kim and I cascade into uncontrollable giggles and banter about the end of our lives. This causes the Australians and another American couple to giggle too.
Is this real life? When will I get to pee? Will we make it to Uyuni?