Was watching the local news yesterday and was a little bit freaked out to see a brief item about a bus crash having killed 4 people here in Ecuador. Nothing particularly unusual about that, but what caught our attention was that the bus had come from the Peruvian border was travelling to Cuenca and belonged to the bus company CIFA. In other words the exact same bus we’d been on 5 days earlier.
I’ve already written about lively bus drivers and the ones in Peru and Ecuador are very much in the same mould as those in Colombia. In fact I didn´t particularly enjoy the ride from Mancora to Cuenca as the driver was notable in having 2 basic driving tactics. Either the accelerator was glued to the floor, or the brakes were being slammed on. He drove that bus HARD.
Now, I know that this post is going to produce a worried email from my mother, in fact most of what I do over here produces a worried email from my mother (my favourite so far is, make sure you don’t cuddle any monkeys when you’re in the jungle, not with your skin!). But, honestly what can you do about a lunatic bus driver (or your mother for that matter)?
I’ve seen a blog post written by a backpacker dealing with this issue as the bus he was on actually did crash and he has some advice in the light of this incident. I understand that the incident was highly traumatic and seriously unpleasant, however I do seriously question (and had a little chuckle trying to picture it!) the following advice
You could TELL the driver to SLOW DOWN (‘Despacio!’) if you feel they are driving too fast or if you feel uncomfortable with their driving in any way. If they do not slow down I would personally get off the bus at the next suitable stop (i.e. where I knew I would be safe and have somewhere to stay)
I can’t really see that one working, particularly if you shout it in English. And as for getting off at the next available opportunity, again worthy in its sentiments, just won’t work in the real world – how do you know where’s safe and has suitable places to stay? He does make a good point about choosing a decent (ie expensive) bus company and where possible I do make a point of that. I wasn’t actually surpised to discover halfway through the journey to Cuenca that CIFA is actually part of CIAL, but at that stage it was too late to do anything about it.
Realistically this is pretty rare stuff – I’ve travelled over 25,000 miles by bus in the last 16 months and have felt at risk maybe twice. Maybe it’s stupid fatalism but I really don’t see what you can do about it. Planes crash, cars crash, buses crash, trains crash, boats sink, but a traveller’s gotta travel, right?