BootsnAll Travel Network

Bus mistakes 101

As of today I am five for five on bus fuck ups. Now, on this whole trip, I don´t think I made more than five mistakes, including my motorcycle times, but just in the last five city moves I have screwed up each time. Fortunately, as I stated before, the distances are not great so making a mistake didn´t cause me to have to spend the night sleeping on the side of the road, but it is the principle of it. I think of myself as well traveled. Even though I am in a Spanish speaking area, I speak Spanish well enough especially in regards to traveling. Well, for some reason it is not going well.

A little background. El Salvador bus systems are fairly user friendly. At the main terminals they have placards hanging down on each driveway designating destinations. The buses themselves are labeled by route number so in conjunction with a guidebook, you can just look for the bus number without having to struggle with the language barrier or not knowing the final destination of the bus that you need. And if you are Spanish literate, there is generally a drivers helper yelling destinations or willing to help you if you ask. Well, as easy as that sounds and my prior bus travels in the prior parts of the Central America, I have been really dropping the ball.

Mistake #1- On the route going from La Libertad to Juayua I decided to not wait for the afternoon only bus that went direct to the main terminal in Sonsonate (the gateway to Ruta de floras). There was just the main road that followed the coast line which I had to take so I figured why wait. I would have to take one additional bus, but it should save me a couple of hours of waiting. Well, the connection where I needed to catch the second bus was on the main road, but the bus took a turnoff and off to some damn far off village I went. Basically, the turnoff which had no semblence of inhabitation was the village where I needed to catch my connecting bus. As the little village where I ended up was like where the driver lived of something, I had to wait until after his lunch and siesta before that same bus which was the only one headed back to the main road.

Mistake #2- While still on my way to Juayua and being pissed that I had screwed up, I was contemplating on stopping in Sonsonate for the night as it was getting to be early evening. I was sort of pissed at myself at making a mistake that I figure that forcing myself to keep going would be punishment enough. That and the fact that the bus terminal was a couple of kilometers from the central part of town and I didn´t feel like dealing with the hassle of walking into town, looking for a place to stay, and then having to haul my ass all the way back in the morning. So I got on the afternoon bus which ran along the whole Ruta de Flores. Since it was the evening, it was packed to the gills. Luckily I had gotten a seat and had some girl who was forced to stand, allowed me to rest my head between her boobies the whole way. It was a steep climb and took a while to get to the top where the villages were. It was so packed that it was impossible to see out the windows (boobies) so when a large group of people got out at a little church central park, I figured that had to be it so I grabbed my bag and jumped out. I only had to look up to see the sign that showed I was in the wrong town and I had a nice four kilometer walk up and down the hills to get to Juayua.

Mistake #3- From Juayua, the same road that took me there carried along until it reached the main highway that would take me to my next destination. An easy jont. Well, it turned out that again there was only an evening direct bus so my other time saving option was to take the bus back to Sonsonate and then switch buses which had a direct bus to Santa Ana. I got the bus to Sonsonate no problem and arrived at the main terminal. I walked along the covered terminal looking up at the destination signs. I knew which bus number I needed, but I didn´t see it. I did however see the sign with Santa Ana on it so when it came up I jumped on. The sign said something about via Cerro, but I figured all buses go via something so oh well. Well, oh well meant driving to the otherside of the mountain range, through cane fields, up the side of a volcano, around a lake and back down to the road which entered Santa Ana from the opposite side of the road which came directly from Juayua. It was a long ride and I would have got there sooner if I just stayed and waited for the direct bus.

Mistake #4- All I had to do was go directly east from Santa Ana to the town of Las Aguilares which was the connection for my next destination of Suchitoto which was just the extenstion of the same road. I just had to go east. Straight east. Not varying for a moment, East. I went to the bus station which was sandwiched in the center of the market and was basically a cluster fuck. I didn´t see a sign for LA so I asked a couple of drivers. Fortunately the guys I asked drove the bus that apparently did the route but they had just finished and the same bus that did the route had just left. They pointed out the number of their bus and told me it was the same one. Sweet. I ran out and caught up to the bus as it tried to negotiate the market traffic. Just in case, I asked the driver if it went to LA. He waved me on. A half an hour later we had left the city. Since we zig zagged all over the place trying to get out of the city I lost my direction of which way was east so I had to try and identify signs as we went along. I started getting a bad feeling when I started seeing signs of where I was the prior day but that was sort of east, so perhaps it was alright. Then I started seeing signs for San Salvador. That was not good as San Salvador was to the south east and I wanted to head directly east. I was bummed when I realized that we were on our way to the capital or at best to a town slightly north of the capital. And that is where we ended up stopping after my south east route followed by a short stint north. I ended up in a town called Apopa which was directly south of the town that I was shooting for and which was still just a stopover to my final destination. We had ended up going twice the distance to my original destination, and I still hadn´t even made it there yet. We were at the parking lot for the public buses in Apopo so I had to walk over to the main freeway and flag down a bus that would at least get me to Las Aguilares. I pleaded with the drivers helper to tell me when to get off because I needed to be let off at the access road to Suchitoto which was basically just the extension of the road from my starting point had I been able to get on the right bus. I am assuming there was a bus that went directly east, but I can´t guarantee it. From there I waited until a bus came by and finally made it to my final destination.

Mistake #5- Occured when leaving Suchitoto. I had spent so much time trying to figure out where I was on the map trying to get there that I thought I had the map memorized. Suchitoto is a small town so it didn´t have an actual bus station. Rather, all the buses just ran by the market and people got on and off there. The road I had taken to get to Las Aguilares was the main highway that ran directly north and south of the capital to the northern border. I had seen a constant flow of San Salvador buses running through town and since I was just needing to get back to the highway, I figured that I could pretty much jump on any bus to San Salvador or a direct bus to Las Aguilares that went by. Well. a San Salvador came by so I hopped on and we were off. Usually the way it works is that you get on the bus and as the attendent has time he works his way from the front to the back taking payments. I was in the back and we were gone for a while. The road was really nice compared to what I remembered coming on but as I thought Suchitoto was pretty much the end of the road how could I be going in the wrong direction. When the attendent came to me I asked him for the price to Las Aguilares as it was only half way to the capital. He said the bus went directly to the terminal in the capital. Why was the guy screwing with me. We had already stopped three times to let people off so why would he tell me that they wouldn´t stop in the major transit town on the way. I asked again. He said no direct to the terminal. I kind of stared at him in disbelief long enough for him to continue on to the last people behind me. I figured that maybe showing him the map might help him out as apparently this guy had no clue what he was talking about. So of course as soon as I opened the book to the El Salvador map I realized that there was in fact a road that led out the back side of Suchitoto and went directly to the capital. Direct to the terminal. Shit. I apologized and asked to be let off. On the side of the road I was pretty depressed at being already behind in the day and still having three more bus transfers to do with a growing risk of ending up somewhere in Guatemala. Fortunately the rest of the trip went fairly uneventful and I finally made it to my last stop.

I am happy to say today my three bus and one country change went off without a hitch. The streak is broken.

On the plus side I got to see this cool lava field. Not sure where it was but we stopped next to it so the drivers helper could take the wheel for a bit while the driver made out with his girlfriend.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *