The Best Seat is Atop a Bus

On that particularly hot Bolivian afternoon, I managed to sweet talk the driver into letting my friend Alyssa and me ride on top of the bus.ย  It’s probably not the way parents hope their daughter is travelling around rural Bolivia, but if you had to choose between a stuffy cabin with screaming children and a prime seat with 360 degree views, the fresh breeze blowing in your face, and locals waving as you drive by, which would you choose?

Despite it being a short journey, the driver was a bit apprehensive about letting the two of us ride on the roof, but eager eyes and a hopeful smile did the trick. We climbed the metal ladder which burned under the sun and found a spot amongst the boxes, spare tires, and packages the driver was transporting.

The winding dirt road took us past adobe homes, lush trees, hills of green, herds of goats, and sierras as far as the eye could see. It was a quiet journey because sometimes when you’re faced with so much beauty, all that seems appropriate are the whispered sounds of the rustling leaves, the breeze, and the gravel crunching beneath the wheels.

By the time we got back into town, my hair was matted, my face pink with the early signs of a sunburn, and my body encrusted with layers of dirt, sweat, and sunscreen. And it was absolute satisfaction. Travelling through rural Bolivia atop a bus remains one of my favourite experiences to date (that, and sharing the back of a pick up truck with hitchhikers). Perhaps a seat atop an Indian train is not too far off in the horizon…

What has been your favourite journey?

15 Comments

  • Nomadic Samuel (@NomadicSamuel) says:

    I would have done the same as you ๐Ÿ™‚ My most epic journey was a five day camel safari in the Thar desert of India. It was incredible visiting the gypsy villages and unspoiled sections of desert. We even encountered a flash flood and had to be emergency evacuated. I’ll never forget it.

  • jackietravels says:

    This is so badass! And every mother’s worst nightmare/potential heart attack. Which makes it even more awesome.

  • ordinarytraveler says:

    That sounds perfect to me! I think that was a very good call. Did you tell your parents? ๐Ÿ™‚

    • thatbackpacker says:

      I did. ๐Ÿ˜‰ They get to see the pictures and hear about the scrapes and bruises after the fact…

  • LozinTransit says:

    Nice! If you want a unique experience its as simple as asking. Or in this case sweet talking.

  • Suzy says:

    Definitely every parent’s nightmare but a fun adventure nonetheless! Sometimes you have to do what you have to do for the best seat in the house, or bus rather.

  • Lisa Overman says:

    It looks like a great view, but you’re right mom’s everywhere would be worried about you. It looks like you’re enjoying your travel adventures.

  • ElizabethJ_Bird says:

    Oh man I love riding in open air vehicles. You really can see the scenary much better!

  • Jill says:

    Sore bum?

  • tawnymclark says:

    It sounds like it was one great ride. I absolutely love Bolivia. Looks like you had a great time there as well. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I would probably have wimped out and sat inside with the screaming children. Nicely done! I actually like riding inside the trains in India. Most of the time everyone is curious, chatty, and generous (with their homemade food!)

  • Kyle Goes Global says:

    This is great! Traveling on top of a bus is one of the goals of my upcoming RTW trip, and I’m glad to know all it took was a smile and some charm! What a great experience and pictures!!

  • Bus from New York to Boston says:

    How fast was this bus going? I would be freaking out if I was on top of a moving bus!

  • Brigid says:

    What a fab idea! So wish I had of thought of doing this when I was traveling in rural Bolivia. As much as I love a good bus ride soaking in the gorgeous scenery, being crammed in with 70 other people, goats, chickens and bags of potatoes on a local bus for 3 hours was not my idea of fun!
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