Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Donde Busscar? - Episode 3
"Donde busscar?" "Where's the bus?" This became a favorite phrase of mine during the trip. Thanks, Todd, for introducing me to it
Yet another recurring theme over the course of the 10 days was the absence and/or malfunctioning of the buses. This theme is present from the very begining when we arrived at the airport. A bus was supposed to be there to fetch us upon arrival. Instead we stood on the curb and waited for two hours until two different busses came to take us on our 4 hour ride from hell. This continued on the next day when trying to go from the hotel to the University for volleyball practice. Bus was supposed to pick us up a good hour -hour and a half before it actually did. Continuing in that same vein - after practice we must have waited for at least another hour for a bus to get us then. This sort of thing happend over and over and over again. You could ask anyone who was still at the University well past the time they should've left - "what are you doing here?" And they would reply "we're waiting on our bus." The same could be said for entire teams standing out in front of the hotel.
Now, if it wasn't that the bus just wasn't showing up - it was that the bus was broken down (theoretically a legitimate excuse for not showing up). I'd heard some stories about busses breaking down with a whole team on board, but I hadn't actually experienced this for myself until pretty late in the week. Our bus did not show up, so we decided to get on Mexico's bus. We were pretty sure that the bus had been driven down from Mexico city by the looks of the thing and frankly I was really unsurprised when it broke down while trying to pull out of the spot it was parked in. We all unloaded (thankfully we hadn't actually left the University) and commenced standing on the curb as we'd grown accustomed to over the past 7 days or so. That bus sat in the University parking lot for the remainder of our time in Venezuela. Every day we'd pull up and say "well, the bus is still there." I guess there wasn't really any hurry to have it towed away and fixed - I'd venture it's still there now. I think busses assigned to team USA broke down no less than 5 times during the course of the week, and I was relieved to have only been on one of them and even more pleased to not have been stranded in the middle of nowhere when it happend. I believe during one incident, the entire boys basketball team had to be cabbed in - 4 at a time - because the bus broke down half way between the hotel and the University.
My favorite "bus" incident of the entire trip was just prior to the Mexico bus break down. Earlier that day I'd been on a bus from the University to the OV. It was kind of a small crappy bus (believe it or not, the busses we normally took were very nice charter busses - far nicer than the charter busses we have here in the US), but we weren't complaining cause it was taking us where we needed to go. As a general rule, driving is pretty eratic in Venezuela (at least that was my experience), so the bus lurching all over the road really wasn't a shock. As we're driving, and lurching, and swerving, a work truck pulls up beside us. Now, this guy can't drive either (of course) and he (or the bus, I'm not really sure which was at fault) side swiped us. Not once......but twice. The bus bore the marks on the right front side and right rear side. As soon as it happend I was like, "well I can't believe it took us nearly all week to get in to an accident." The bus pulls over, as does the truck. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this will be a quick and easy review of the accident and we'll get to go sooner rather than later. To my utter amazement, the drivers take a look at the bus, then the truck, agree that the world won't come to an end, and we're on our merry way.