Thursday, November 22, 2007

Leaving La Paz

La Paz Outskirts

What a trip this was. One day, three busses, minimal enjoyment. On our final Bolivian bus, we were treated to one last piece of the mischief so often wrought by the Bolivian Transport Gods. Our ride out of the city had been overbooked by one seat, and the last one on the bus was an English backpacker. He had his ticket in hand, and was most upset when told that there wasn’t a corresponding seat anymore. He asked if he could sit up front in the stairwell, but we had the only bus driver in Bolivia worried about the police, and apparently sitting there is illegal. Having pre-paid for his seat, the guy was awfully put out about having to stand on this four or five hour trip, but, there was a Plan B. Much to the bemusement of the upstanding, the driver magically produced a camping stool from behind his chair and presented it as the solution to everyone’s problems. ‘What the f*** is that?’ was the ungracious, bewildered response. What it was was the kind of folding stool made from two staple shaped pieces of steel with a piece of canvas between the horizontals- something designed and marketed for ease of portage, not for it’s ergonomic qualities.
Reluctantly, our plus one took the stool and sat in the aisle next to his friend. Frustrated, he lamented his situation to a giggling crowd of seated passengers. Finding little sympathy, he put on his iPod and took out a copy of Wuthering Heights. For a while he seemed somewhat contented, but this fragile state was shattered soon after when the attendant redrew attention to his plight by handing him a dirty, smelly, stained pillow. Just exactly what he was to do with it nobody was completely sure, and he ended up gingerly resting his head on it as he lay down, defeated in the aisle.

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