Death by Greed

{ 16 comments }

by L Egle of Chicky Bus

The Mexican bus driver – the busero – pulled out of the parking lot. Immediately I noticed that the bottom half of the bus wasn’t attached to the top, nor was the steering connected. At least, that’s how it felt as it shook, rattled and rolled.

Each time the busero (a Mexican version of Mario Andretti) took a turn, the bus threatened to come apart. Like an old body whose bones are brittle, this bus felt as if it had seen its day. This is going to be a long and hellish night, I thought.

When we reached the hills and eventually the mountains, I began shaking more than the bus. Then, midway up the mountains, I was completely engulfed with fear. Each time the road curved, the driver got too close to the edge. Although it was dark, moonlight illuminated just enough to see what was down below. And it scared the hell out of me. I’m going to die on this bus, I thought.

How I ended up on the bus was quite simple. Greed. I’d met a Mexican couple on Puerto Escondido and – despite two other bus options – the departure time of this bus gave me ‘just a few more hours on the beach,’ more time with my friends, one more sunset … one last sunset? But this bus wasn’t listed in the Lonely Planet – I’d heard about it from some locals. Perhaps that should have been a red flag, but, greedy for more time with new friends, I ignored all warnings.

Too late now, though, I thought to myself as I clung to the seat. My main wish was that “it” would be fast and painless. I didn’t want to suffer if we went over the cliff. Whatever happens … however it happens … I just hope it’s fast, I thought. And even though I’m not religious, I began to pray. To whichever god I could think of.

The maniacal busero pulled over at a rest stop for some Coca Cola. He’ll keep driving fast, but at least he won’t fall asleep, I thought, hoping to focus on something positive. A French couple that I recognized from the seat in front of mine, found their way over to me. They were both chain smoking with shaking hands. I asked them for a cigarette even though I don’t smoke, but I needed something – anything – to take the edge off.

We got back on the bus, now feeling slightly better due to our fear-based camaraderie. Every once in a while, they’d turn around with stricken faces, but we’d chat, soothing each other with reassurances that it would “soon be over.” We were wrong, of course.

The ride lasted 9 hours.

To this day, I can remember what it felt like to be on such a poorly designed / maintained bus that was on the verge of falling apart, being driven the way it was. I’ll never forget the crazed look in the driver’s eyes, the terror I saw on the French couple’s faces and my very real fear of possible death on a Mexican bus.

The morale of the story? I’ll stick to my travel Bible (the Lonely Planet) next time around and won’t indulge the deadly sin of greed. It’s just not worth it!

Read More Stories > GO

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“I am not afraid of death, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” — Woody Allen

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Writer’s Bio: Lisa is a travel addict (solo/backpacker), memoir writer and ESL teacher who enjoys being off the beaten path … and in the moment. Visit her blog Chicky Bus or follow her on Twitter.


Leave a Comment

  • Lorna - the roamantics April 12, 2011, 11:22 pm

    way to turn lemons into lemonade! so sorry lisa had to endure this, but what a great story it became! there certainly is a lesson in there, but i don’t agree that it’s that it is “greedy” to want to stay with friends, the beach, etc. longer (at least i hope not, or i’m one greedy gal!), i think it’s to make sure to check out whatever vessel we travelers got on right before boarding them- lonely planet or not! ;)

    Reply
    • Lisa @chickybus April 14, 2011, 4:32 am

      Hi, Lorna…thanks for reading! I hear you re: greed vs checking things out…make sense. Would you believe that my friends, the people I stuck around to spend extra time with, drove me to the bus station (which they recommended)? We checked out the photos of the ‘buses’ and they and I gave the one I was allegedly going to be on the stamp of approval. Later that night, of course, it was smaller and shakier than the one in the pic.

      Anyway, I’m just glad to have survived….lemonade indeed! :)

      Reply
  • Raymond April 13, 2011, 3:02 am

    I’m with Lorna — there are some great options that aren’t listed in Lonely Planet. Unfortunately, yours was not one of them. I would have probably jumped off at the rest stop — take my chances with the banditos!

    Reply
    • Lisa @chickybus April 14, 2011, 4:34 am

      Hi, Raymond…funny re: jumping off at the rest stop! Great idea and if it happens again (I sure hope not!), I’ll do that. Fortunately, my Spanish is quite good, so it would all work out somehow… :)

      Reply
  • Natalie April 13, 2011, 5:02 am

    I think I would have jumped out of the window after the first 500 metres. The bus driver probably was obviously chuffed with his banged out jallopy!

    Reply
    • Lisa @chickybus April 14, 2011, 4:36 am

      Hi, Natalie. Would you have? I think the window was jammed or broken….LOL Because of the PTSD, I can’t quite remember… :)

      Reply
  • The Rhythm Method April 14, 2011, 1:02 am

    Loved this. What a sickening feeling, to find yourself careering into the darkness with absolutely no control over the shaking bus or your own shaking body.

    Reply
    • Lisa @chickybus April 14, 2011, 4:37 am

      Yes–sickening! No control at all. Like a scary ride that you didn’t exactly sign up for. Hopefully, I won’t be on another of those buses…ever again! :)

      Reply
  • Tom April 14, 2011, 4:58 am

    Amazing story! Getting vertigo just thinking about it! I don’t think I’d have been able to control my bowels in the same situation, so kudos on that.

    Reply
    • Lisa @chickybus April 16, 2011, 12:43 am

      Thanks, Tom. Vertigo? Then I did my job well! :) It was scary…for real!

      Reply
  • Nomadic Chick April 14, 2011, 7:11 am

    The reason for my peril – GREED for more time. Loved that realization.

    These are some damn fine quality stories, and this is one of them.

    & I did the same exact thing prior to hang gliding in Rio, Brazil – smoked an entire cig as I pondered death. 1) I’m actually scared of heights 2) I use to smoke, so that last one felt better than sex. When facing mortality, pick the smoke every time.

    It’s these moments that build us up, tear us down. Right?

    Reply
    • Lisa @chickybus April 16, 2011, 12:51 am

      Thank you…glad you enjoyed the story! Never tried hang gliding, but can imagine it was frightening. Wow! Yes, the smoke really does help in those situations, doesn’t it? Yes to the building up and tearing down, too.

      I’ve also noticed that sometimes there’s something amazing underneath the fear–an actual passion for the thing we were afraid of. I was once terrified of public speaking and at a certain point, I had the opportunity to try teaching. I almost said no, then said–why not. I found it exciting and ended up loving it! I don’t think I’ll ever love a scary bus ride, though.

      Reply
      • Torre DeRoche April 16, 2011, 1:42 am

        Public speaking scares me too.

        Reply
  • Lisa @chickybus April 16, 2011, 12:50 am

    Thank you…glad you enjoyed the story! Never tried hang gliding, but can imagine it was frightening. Wow! Yes, the smoke really does help in those situations, doesn’t it? :) Yes to the building up and tearing down, too.

    I’ve also noticed that sometimes there’s something amazing underneath the fear–an actual passion for the thing we were afraid of. I was once terrified of public speaking and at a certain point, I had the opportunity to try teaching. I almost said no, then said–why not. I found it exciting and ended up loving it! I don’t think I’ll ever love a scary bus ride, though. :)

    Reply
  • Sarah Got A Passport April 28, 2011, 3:57 am

    Wow, I can’t believe you lasted 9 hours. I probably would’ve tried to get off at the first opportunity. Scary stuff!

    Reply