How to catch a bus without speaking Spanish

Salar de Uyuni 2013-05-021We arrived at the new bus terminal of Potosi on time for our bus to Tarija at 7:30PM. The young lady who sold us the tickets a few hours ago had asked us to check in at her office at 7PM but the office was now closed. Since there was no note we headed towards the gates not knowing which one to take. We couldn’t find any central announcement board and started to get nervous. We decided for gate A where the guard told us that the bus left already. We insisted that the departure was 7:30PM which would give us another 20 minutes. He thought about it, seemed to understand and pointed us to platform 4 to wait for our bus. We started relaxing but only until we realized that we were the only passengers to wait for the bus. Back to the guard he ensured us that the bus would come; we should just sit tight for a little longer. After the clock passed 7:40PM Nadine went back to him. He told her to keep waiting but Nadine went ahead to look for another authority. She ended up with the station police who she asked to call the bus operator. However, he ensured her that the bus would show up eventually.

With nothing else to be done we gave in to our destiny and remained at the platform. Point 8am a serious lady showed up and asked us which bus we were waiting for. We showed her our tickets which kicked her into action: From the flood of Spanish she poured over us we understood that our bus had left from a different terminal on the other side of town but there was a chance to still catch it. While she maneuvered us out of the terminal and into a taxi she conducted frantic phone calls pursuing different people, apologizing, promising and making arrangements. The taxi she had picked and was commanding from the passenger seat was old and not really up to the task of a high speed chase after a bus. While she was talking 100 miles per hour on the phone the taxi barely managed 20 mph up the hill into town. However, this did not prevent the driver to use his horn extensively and be as excited about the chase as he was expected to be. We started wondering if we were part of a setup to lift us of our valuables once we realized that we were not going towards the other terminal but making it onto a highway – but at that moment the lady was pointing to a bus parked on the side of the road. She had managed to reach the driver on the way out of town and pursued him to pull over and wait for her two lost costumers.

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