Monday, August 10, 2009

the bus

Our descent from Peruvian society was as swift as our debut, as we boarded an overnight bus headed for Huaraz that evening. Between Amtrak and Greyhound, my expectations for any form of ground transportation are abysmally low. This made my journey on Cruz del Sur unexpectedly fun in many ways.

For starters, they've learned the art of price discrimination, offering a first class cabin for those who delight in pampered bussing. At $26 per person, we readily paid. Our seats were spacious, plush leather recliners complete with beverage holder- the kind of chair you'd find in a suburban bachelor's TV room. A bit tacky, but oh so comfy.

Had we been cruising a bit faster, I would have thought I was on a plane. In lieu of air traffic control, headquarters monitored the progress and speed of each bus through a GPS system. In lieu of the TSA, Cruz monitored suspicious activity by videotaping all passengers before departure. We started by watching the world's longest instructional video on how to fasten a seat belt. Uniformed stewardesses cheerfully serve on-board meals. Above and beyond airlines, Cruz del Sur offers free wi-fi and a complimentary computer station, complete with internet and all Microsoft Office applications. Thank goodness, I had many spreadsheets to tabulate along the way.

In short, Cruz del Sur takes itself very seriously. I found this airline-wannabe style humorously quaint at first. However, had I known the terrain we were about to cover, I would have found that level of precaution warranted! Between Lima and Huaraz lie the foothills of the Andes mountains, which we would be traversing by night. I wasn't brave enough to pull back the curtains, but even in the absence of images, my anxiety skyrocketed as we collectively heaved left and right with each hairpin turn, knowing full well that about 2-3 feet stood between the roadside and a 1000 ft plummet.

This stormy ship ambiance might have been alleviated by showing something pleasant and soothing, like a Disney film from the 1950's or a documentary on the wonders of the deep. Instead we screened I Am Legend, a post-apocalyptic drama starring everyone's favorite super hero, Will Smith.

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