The Wheels on the Bus

The wheels on the bus 
Go round and round
Round and round 
Round and round 
The wheels on the bus
Go round and round
All the live long day.

The wheels in my head
go pop pop pop,
fizzle, bang, bop
zap, pling, flop
The wheels in my head
Really need to stop
All the f@#%^ live long day

I was lonely yesterday. Perhaps one of the loneliest nights I have ever had, and that is saying something. (Today is much better, just to let you know, before I share all the absurd details.)

Well, after last night’s pill fiasco, the day started out pretty well, with only a 35 minute argument about giving me his pajamas so I could wash them before we went up and had breakfast. They serve a lovely breakfast at this hotel, but granted, most of it is wheat based carbs, and I am going to try to cut out as much wheat and dairy as I can, so that I can say that I tried the autism diet. We will see if there is any improvement. It will be good for me anyway! But at the hotel breakfast, all Aodhan will eat is the lovely soft challah bread. I did convince him to have a glass of sugary peach-ade, but he would not drink the delicious fresh squeezed juice, for reasons that he explained repeatedly to me, but still didn’t register as a reason. He finally had a banana, and I left it at that. 

We got on a little minibus and headed into downtown La Paz. The trip cost us Bs2.40 which is about 35¢ each. The taxi ride back, just for comparison, cost us Bs70, which is 15 times as much. By the way, Bs 70 still is only $10.50, which is still pretty cheap for a 35 minute taxi ride.

We went directly to the bus terminal and asked in all the little windows that offered busses to Arequipa about the times they went. Only one did an overnight, the rest left at 8:30 in the morning and arrived at 8:30 in the evening. Some were single level, some were double decker, some went on a raft across the Straits of Taquina. We went and had lunch in the little restaurant in the bus terminal and talked about it. Aodhan really wanted to go on the blue bus (great reason for a choice, but as good as any other reason I guess.) It was the overnight bus, and the most expensive choice, but luckily I would rather travel all night than all day. The buses for Thursday and Friday were sold out, and the bus that left today had empty seats, but the ones at the top front that Aodhan loves, were already filled. So our only option was to grab the second seats from the front on the 4:30 bus, go quickly back to the hotel and grab out things and check out, and get back in time to catch it as it was already noon. I wanted to catch a minibus back, but after 10 or 15 minutes of trying to find one that said Mallesa, (I think they must not have the Mallesa sign on their windshield until later) Aodhan was so agitated and anxious that he fell over one of the fixed sidewalk garbage bins. He flagged down a taxi, and I acquiesced. 

I checked out of the hotel. They charged me 1.5 nights, since I arrived at 6am and they let me in a room right away, even though check in isn’t until 2pm, and I ate breakfast that day too. I thought the compromise was fair. Aodhan, meanwhile was back in the room packing up all our things. I got back to the room before he was able to empty the can of used toilet paper into our suitcases, and told him that had done a magnificent job. In reality he had. The things that he had tossed in were not folded, but eh what the heck, at least it was done:)

We took a taxi down to the bus terminal, which only cost Bs40 - into town is cheaper. We arrived with almost three hours to go before the bus left. I checked my suitcase, but I couldn’t talk Aodhan into checking his. I did however, talk Aodhan into leaving the bus terminal to go back to the Indian restaurant I had found the last time I was in La Paz four years ago. It was quite a long walk with Aodhan dragging a suitcase, but we found it. We took the food to go, and grabbed a minibus back to the station. 

It was finally time to board the bus, and of course, it wasn’t blue. They made us go outside and the crowd wandered around the platform to one of the nearby busses, and hung around in a gaggle of tourists and locals, wondering if we were in the right place. When we finally got on the bus, Aodhan dashed ahead, up the stairs, and into the front row. I stood there. I knew. I knew this was going to be a showdown. “NO!” came the stern retort. I didn’t have the energy for this. After 15 minutes and a crowd of helpful onlookers, one of whom offered to call the police, I grabbed Aodhan and held him down, and told him how he would never travel with me again, and many other things that I didn’t really want to say, like that I would get rid of his sweaters, or let a thief steal his backpack, which was actually not unlikely at that moment as I could not watch the luggage while wrestling with him. I finally had to grab his hair and drag him to the seat behind, him screaming at the top of his lungs. Lets just say the rest of the ride didn’t get any better. 

As soon as we moved, and the two Israeli girls sat down, the bus started moving and he almost instantaneously settled down for a while and looked at the scenery, smiling happily and saying, “hey, these seats are really almost as good, because I can see right over the people in front of us”. He waved and said “goodbye La Paz”. He grinned and chortled happily, cooing “we’re going to Arequipa, we’re really going to Arequipa”. They came around and gave everyone a bag with a sandwich and juice and a small treat. Aodhan was delighted and wolfed down the sandwich. I ate my Indian food. He had another little fit of anxiety over taking his anxiety med, but he settled down from it with only minor intervention. Finally we both slept.

At Puno (pronounced poo-no), we needed to change buses. They came and roused us and hurried us off the bus, Aodhan took forever, checking the seat and then when we got off the bus, left his suitcase with me and went back to check again. The guy was getting agitated and I told Aodhan I had to go. I dragged both suitcases most of the two blocks. Aodhan finally came behind us and shouted “Hey!” “hey! I need to go back to the bus to check I got all my stuff”. I was so angry at him I threw his suitcase down in the middle of an intersection as we crossed for him to run up and grab. “Hey!” he shouted at me, “hey! I need to go back to the bus to check I got all my stuff”. We got in the terminal and the guy asked us to wait for him to talk to the other agent. Aodhan again repeated the same sentiment for the 17th time about needing to check the bus. Then he of course, had to go sit far away where it would be hard for the guy to find us. My attitude, I have to admit, sucked at that moment, and all I could think of was “whatever, go sit wherever the fuck you want and if there’s a weird person, or a thief there and I can’t see you, deal with it, I’m not missing this bus because of you.” The guy came back looking unhappy. “Sorry señora, Puno no buses, need you go Juliaca” (pronounced hoo-lee-aka). Was I really hearing this? I let it sink in. We were going to go back and put Aodhan on the same bus. “FUCK”!! I thought. Why can’t I catch a fucking break. This is not going to improve our situation. I sighed. “Aodhan!, come Aodhan, we have to go”. He appeared out of nowhere. We started walking. “Where’s the new bus, where is it, “Where do we get on it, are we going to Arequipa now? This is Puno, I remember Puno”. “For fuck sakes”, i thought, if we were only getting on the new bus now, all would be so much better. “No Aodhan, we have to get on the same bus again, you can check now to make sure you didn’t forget anything.

Then it began again.

Aodhan turned on the lights, he wanted to check if something had fallen out of his bag. It was an overnight bus ride and everyone was trying to sleep. He climbed over me, and dragged my backpack with my computer and camera into the aisle, he was banging into the seats in front with every move, he was finding garbage left over from former bus patrons and stuffing it in his pockets. People around were really starting to get freaked out over his behaviour. I finally had to grab him and man-handle him back into his seat, uttering threats of weapons of mass destruction. Then for the rest of the ride I practically had to sit on him, and wrestle with him and hold him down. I re-directed him away from focusing on gathering all the garbage off the floor of the bus, by focusing on turning the lights off. We battled about lights for most of the trip which kept him seated instead of crawling in the aisles looking in other people’s luggage to see if any of his stuff was in it. He finally looked in his backpack to draw, and grinned widely and said “hey, here’s my picture that I was looking for, it didn’t fall under the seat”. I resisted the urge to strangle him.

In Juliaca, we again got off the bus, I gave Aodhan a few minutes before we stopped to crawl around gathering little scraps from under his seat. Then we repeated the process of walking to the terminal, and waiting for the guy to get us tickets for the other bus. Aodhan was still so agitated. He paced, and every 35 seconds he demanded we get on the bus before it left. I explained to him repeatedly that we had to sit in the middle of the bus this time. He agreed, but when we finally got on the bus, he pushed ahead and grabbed the second row seats (as the front was already occupied). I grabbed his case in an attempt to lure him back, but it was no use, and then I was trapped at the back by people getting on the bus. By the time I was able to get to the front again, people were yelling at him and threatening to call the police, etc. I said “El es autistica, momento por favor” I got off the bus and gave Aodhan’s case to the conductor to put under the bus so I would have one less thing to worry about. I got back on and went to deal with dragging Aodhan to the back of the bus. I was so physically and mentally exhausted that I didn’t know how I was going to accomplish it. The people who were supposed to have the seats turned to me and said “no te preocupes (don’t worry) we will take your seats, you stay here, no nos importa”. I knew I should deal with it, I knew that giving him his way will just make him do this the next time, I knew I should make him comply with his purchased seat, but I couldn’t do it. I just looked at them and almost cried and sat down.  We slept quite a bit. 

Oh ya, just one thing I forgot. The speedometer. The second bus had a cool little velocity readout above the windshield. Remember, this is on the second floor of the bus, and the driver is enclosed in his own compartment on the first floor, so this readout is specifically for the passengers. I thought it was kind of cool as we pulled out of the bus terminal. As we drove through Juliaca, the red flashing readout was neat. Then we finally got on the highway. 60km/h, 70, 80, 90, and then it hit 91 and OM FUCKING GOD the thing started shrieking out an obnoxious beeping until the driver slowed back down under 90. WHY!!! Why in the fuck do the passengers on an overnight bus have to listen to this. Why are we being punished for speeding, we don't have access to the gas or brake pedals. And besides, I personally want the driver to go over 90km/h. I want to get there. At this point I don't care if I get there alive. At this point I am willing to risk an speed related accident because if that thing keeps beeping I am going to jump out one of the windows and kill myself!!! The thing quieted down and I relaxed again ... for 5 minutes until it screamed out it's tattletale on the driver again, all night, every 5 minutes or so. 

Aodhan at the Indian Restaurant waiting for our food.

The Indian Restaurant

Inside the La Paz bus terminal. Notice the numbers, you can see three and five etc, each of these is a different company with their own busses and their own routes. You just have to go around and look at the signs posted on the windows and find the place you want to go. The stupidest thing I thing is that almost all the companies send their busses to the same place at the same time. So for instance, I want to travel to Arequipa, 5 different companies have buses that all leave at 8:30 every morning. Don't you think it would be better to have one company leave at 8:30, one at 11, one at 1pm etc? Oh well - haven't figured out the logic for this one yet...

The La Paz bus terminal with La Paz in the background.

The coca tea I bought downtown in La Paz. Having a cup of it right now as I write, and feeling it go to my head immediately. This is stronger coca tea than I have ever had, what the @#$!! is in here, oh ya, I forgot, cocaine of course. Yea! Maybe that's why I am still coping and have enough energy to deal with Aodhan:) I have to admit, I am drinking a lot of coca tea to deal with the altitude or was that attitude...