After three nights in Cochabamba it was time to continue our journey. After some breakfast consisting of buns from the local bakery and juice from a juice stand in the park we took a taxi to the bus station. The only problem was that we arrived at 11:15, and most buses to Santa Cruz apparently depart either between 07:00 and 11:00 or 19:00 to 23:00. After walking a few laps around all the stands in the station there was a lady shouting “Santa Cruz! Santa Cruz!” and apparently had a bus leaving at 12:30. Great! And it just cost us €9 for a (predicted) 10 hour trip.
When the bus arrived we realized that it was not the newest bus on the block, but it did have semi-cama seats and looked like it could get the job done. The bus ride from Cochabamba to Santa Cruz takes you from 2500 m above sea level down to just 500 m, and the first part of the road is notorious for breaking when it rains.
After a few hours in the bus the traffic thickened, and finally we came to a complete stop. We had just passed the sign in the picture and I remembered the rain from the day before. For a while we just stood there, but suddenly the line of vehicles started to move, and then stopped again 100 meters further.
After maybe two hours in the line we started to see what the problem with the road was. It had indeed gotten damaged by the rain, and were now being repaired. This meant that it was only possible to drive in one direction at a time, and this in turn resulted in huge queues.
After passing the part where the road was being repaired we gained speed. Some of the time we went rather fast, smiling as we passed everyone queuing to pass the broken part. Some of the time we slowed down since people in the queue thought it was a good idea to stop on the outer side of the road, and the big trucks we had in front of us had a hard time passing. We could also see that the road was damaged in more places, and was being repaired.
After a few more hours the road got flatter, and suddenly our driver was reaching 100km/h! At times we felt that he might have gotten a bit too happy about finally getting away from the queues. He was overtaking cars in blind corners and not considering it an issue to be more or less constantly on the wrong side of the road, only to get back in line when we had meeting traffic.
Everything passed without incidents and we arrived in Santa Cruz de la Sierra just a few hours after the promised time!