Brutal Bus Ride: 4, Pucon to Santiago, Chile.

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“Senor, senor”

“Huh?”

“Senor, ya llegamos”

He was right. It was 7am and we had arrived in Santiago after an all-night trip from Chile’s adventure sports capital, Pucon

Wow, I’d been out cold.

Actually I’d been wrapped up nice and warm in the blanket provided by our amiable attendant, Carlos, who was now politely attempting to shake me from my slumber.

I’d never slept that well on a bus.

I’d never slept at all on a bus.

The extra price of the ticket for the full cama (bed) bus was definitely justified and gave me the chance to sleep off nine months of equally brutal bus rides on my round-the-world backpacking odyssey.

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I think I’d nodded off before the end of the movie and after bingo. All I remember is sinking blissfully into the comfy chair as it reclined further and further and fuuurrr…..

All that was left to do upon arriving in Santiago was to rub the sleep from my eyes, track down a taxi and pop over to the hotel before enjoying the last day of my adventure.

So how, do you ask, was this bus ride brutal?

I lost bingo.

I lost by one number. One lousy number.

There I was. In my comfy seat, beverage in one hand, pen in the other, bingo card on the tray table as Carlos called out the numbers.

“siete” yes

“trienta y dos” yes

“sesenta” no

“cuarenta y tres” yes… and so it continued.

With each number my heart beat faster, my hand shook and I fought back a wide, churlish grin; lest I reveal my impending success to my neighbour.

Winning is Everything!

I could feel it in my soul, I was just moments from victory which would serve as a befitting culmination to nine months on the road.

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Victory would easily surpass the wonders of the Serengeti and Victoria Falls, the majesty of Machu Picchu and the arduous splendour of the Inca Trail.

There could be no greater prize than victory in Bus Bingo!

“dieciseis” yes

“Ochenta y ocho” (dos gorditas?) yes

“trece” yes

Nueve, say nueve, screamed the only blank space remaining on my card, its nakedness teasing and taunting me.

Please say nueve, I silently pleaded, I begged, I implored, I demanded…say nueve and victory will be mine.

“dos”

“BINGO!”  cried the man in row three.

Nooooooo!!! I wept internally.

Nooooooo, it can’t be. Victory was mine. It was destined to be. The stars and the cosmos had aligned to place me at that very spot, at that very time, for the sole purpose of winning bus bingo. Now it had been snatched from my grasp, as had the prize of a bus company t-shirt and a pouch containing…I’ll never know.

Following the heart crushing defeat, I’d searched for some kind of explanation, some meaning to this cruel twist of fate.

Why did this happen?

What does it mean?

What are the wider implications?

I’d kept staring into the darkness outside, searching for answers, until I reclined the seat further and further and fuuuurrrr…

Brutal.

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