We waited in facination at the bus station for the bus from La Paz to Oruro in Bolivia as we watched goats being tied to the top of buses along with bags and more bags and potatoes and veg etc. It was a very hectic place. We picked and paid for our bus due to leave in 20min time to Oruru but an hour and half later two other ‘later’ buses had already left. We occupied ourselves helping others put their spuds on the roof and trying to lift 20kg bags off old women and hand it to the man on top of the bus 3mtrs up. Eventually we got going on our adventurous journey with ‘Arnold Forever’ across the back window and with the roads out of La Paz paved the going was smooth. Just on the edge of the city there were road works and the tarmac (bitumen) stopped and it got bumpy. I didn’t take much notice but after 15min I was thinking that the road works were lasting a long time until I discovered that there were no road works and no tarmac now and this was the road for the rest of the 6hr journey. As we had come straight from Peru up north to La Paz we weren’t up to speed with the goings on of Bolivia just yet.
Several hours later we get a puncture in the absolute middle of nowhere which seemed just as well with the amount of people who went to the toilet once we stopped! There was no shelter except some foot high bushes but still all the women with the big dresses only bent down a little so the dress touched the ground and then got up and walked away a minute later so they must be very efficient and practiced not to get any on themselves! An hour later ourselves and Arnie were back moving but needless to say we got another puncture an hour or two later and pulled in by some make shift shops on the side of the now red mud road to change it. It had been raining so the road was covered in puddles and despite it not being that warm the driver in his knowledge had left the door open to the passenger carriage while he changed the wheel. Several minutes later a car went by in the same direction as us and hit a puddle and sprayed red mud all over the front carriage separation wall and got the first seat and maybe a bit of the second seat. Everybody else on the bus including myself had a good laugh at this. Funny, funny except for the 2 or 3 locals that got mud on their clothes and bags.
I continued reading my book when a louder sound filled my ears, a truck was coming. But by the time I put together what happened the last time with a car plus what might happen this time with a truck it was too late. The truck was going the opposite way to us and hit the puddle full on. The front two seats were spared this time and a much larger section including myself and my book and my clothes and my bag were soaked in wet red Bolivian mud. The people at the back had a much bigger laugh at this because not only were more people red and wet and we hadnot learned from the first time and closed the door but there were now ‘gringos’ involved.
Now I looked more Irish than ever with my red hair! And let me tell you that red mud takes forever to get out!