As I am now 5´8¨ and an elephantine beast in 96% of countries worldwide, I consider myself a fairly impervious force. I praise my mother´s sagacity in gorging my life with Whole Milk for the eighteen years I resided in her house.
My narcissism towards my immunity manifested itself in procuring a ¨mas economico¨ fourteen-hour overnight bus ticket from Nazca to Cuzco, Peru. I miss-calculated my and my companion´s traveling durability as lateral to that of Superman.
A friend had flown in to Lima a few days prior from the U.S. and met me in Nazca. Forthwith he will be referred to as Rojo Gringo. This name was bequeathed to him by Peruvian girls he met in Lima after a day´s beach sojourn and his normally pale (Albino) skin acquired a red tone. Rojo Gringo and I invested in the mas economico bus ticket, cocksure and eminent of our industriousness.
We arrived laden with bags at the bus station at 9:30pm for a 10:00pm ride. We presented our tickets with the pomp of a Miss America pageant. The Peruvian woman innundated us with strings of Spanish through which prattle I was able to decipher that our bus had departed without us five minutes earlier. She rustled from the room as fast as a Barry Bonds sprint and accosted a cab. We bunted ourselves and our bags in to the seats and chased the bus to another station where we subsequently waited for thirty-five minutes before departure.
Upon bus infiltration, Rojo Gringo and I located a local woman and her bags in our seats. She did not comprehend my Mexican Spanglish attempts (an appendage of living in California). We installed ourselves in the only available seats: ones in the bus´s rear. Instantly upon sitting, excrement essence enclosed us, blitzkrieging our nostrils, eyes, and skin more swiftly than it takes my favorite Peruvian-Touretts bartender to scream profanities at me. The stench was a nauseating combination of excrement and vomit emanating from behind the bathroom stall´s closed door. It seeped through the back of the bus, reeking more than a human flatulating a dead rat after two weeks.
Our eyes streaming in ventures to not gag-reflex on each other, Rojo Gringo fastened a shirt below his eyes cowboy-style, and we prepared for fourteen hours in Gringo hell. As the hours compiled, the night pierced glaciers. We fastened the windows shut only to feel regurgitation recapitulate in our stomachs. This was worse than my five-year-old self slipping and falling in a massive lake of elephant shit at the circus. Rojo Gringo and I concluded breeding icicles from our skin was preferential to the fetid festering flavor. We opened the windows and my body consequently propagated paralyzation.
Hours later I cleft my comatose self with the revolting realization I was going to pee. I sat, my arms clamped around my knees and unable to maneuver my muscles. I debated whether peeing on myself or in Satan´s Closet was the more desirable option. The urine might heat my lower body. Unless, of course, my urine coagulated as frost, which I considered an .85 probability. I opted for Satan´s Closet. Inside was rigorously reminiscent of my reckoning. It appeared an array of people had explosive diarrhea after consuming guinea pig, alpaca, and rat. The effusive excrement spated over half of the toilet bowl sides. In the sink reposed what appeared to be another array of people´s vomit after having consumed guinea pig, alpaca, and rat. One assumed this was in reaction to the excrement. I opened the window next to the toilet and hung my head out like a dog in a car ride, convulsing in revulsion and amusement.
I exited Satan´s Closet like an alcoholic escaping from AA. And returned to my seat to find my purse missing. I awoke Rojo Gringo and we inspected the surrounding seats to discover the two men who had been sitting in the seats in front of us gone, as well as my purse.
I had purchased the purse earlier that day. Inside the purse was every American dollar and Peruvian sole I had, my ATM card (only access to money), my license, my sunglasses, and Rojo Gringo´s camera and postcards. My camera had been left on some rocks the previous week while in a canyon hawking condors. He had entrusted me with his.
This realization manifested itself forty-five minutes before the bus broke down. Still hours from Cuzco, we evacuated Satan´s Bus at five-something in the morning to await another bus. Rojo Gringo and I reclined in the chill morning air, surrounded by Andes Mountains, on our way to the Sacred Valley. We determined that was the last time we asked for a mas economico bus. And the last time he should delegate me with responsibility.
* Published by inTravel Magazine in August 2009