As usual we were on a nice bus with air-conditioning and reclining seats. Keryn and I were one set of seats back from the front and this turned out to be a good thing as we could see the road ahead of us. The driver of the bus obviously wanted to cut his driving time to the shortest possible period as he drove very fast and took the corners at the maximum speed possible. This coupled with very soft suspension and a winding, undulating road meant the first three hours felt more like a boat journey. A few peoples stomachs couldn’t cope.
The vomiting started an hour or so into the trip and continued for hours, various people succumbing. Keryn felt ill for much of the first half of the drive but thankfully didn’t have any physical manifestation. Claire summed it up for a lot of people when she stood up and said loudly, and mildly panicked “I just want to get off this fucken bus!” but in doing so crystallised everyones current, making those ill feel like they weren’t the only ones suffering. Juan Pablo did an excellent job of comforting Claire, moving her up to the front of the bus. He also got the driver to slow down and take more care on the corners and also rounded up plastic bags for those being sick. The combination of an ipod playing so I couldn’t hear the illness, being at the front so I couldn’t see anything and a stuffed nose meaning I couldn’t smell the vomit meant I was OK, but I didn’t sleep much for the six hours it took us to get to the rest point.
Out of the bus at 3am people bought drinks, changed clothes and stood around talking in the surprisingly humid air. We changed drivers at this point and the next guy was much better, smoother through the corners. It also helped that the road was a lot straighter now. While I didn’t feel like I got much sleep I do remember opening my eyes and being surprised that the sun was up. There was a fantastic view from the mountain road of the valley full of mist and cloud, San Cristóbal being the highest town we visit on this first part of our journey. We disembarked at the bus station to a palpable feeling of relief, not to mention the welcome fresh air.