How to survive an Ecuadorian bus ride

The title of this post is a bit misleading.  I’m not going to tell you how to survive a bus that crashes or tips over or anything like that.  Instead, I’m going to tell you how to stay comfortable and keep from losing your mind on long, hot bus rides when in Ecuador.  Do with this information what you will.  I just felt like I should pass on my new expertise!

1.  Get a window seat.
Buses in Ecuador are not usually airconditioned.  And they are usually full.  No AC + hot weather + full bus = stink.  By the third hour the buses and their occupants (myself included) are pretty smelly.  A window seat not only allows you to stay cooler, but also to get some fresh air.

Bus to Otavalo before the bus filled with people

2. Don’t drink much.
I’m typically hyper-hydrated.  I drink water all day and and my response to any ailment is to drink more water.  However, you do NOT want a full bladder on one of these buses.  Bathroom stops are few and far between and the bathrooms are rough to say the least.  Some of the long distance buses have bathrooms, but they are almost always out of order.

3.  Carry TP in your pocket.
When the buses do finally stop for the highly anticipated bathroom breaks, the facilities will certainly leave something to be desired… and that something is nearly always toilet paper.  Carry a small supply in your pocket so you won’t hold the bus up while you drip dry.

4. Music.
Most of the buses that we’ve been on so far have big TV screens up front that show movies to entertain the passengers.  However, these movies are in Spanish and, even if you could understand them, they are not movies you want to watch.  I’ve seen Rush Hour 2 three times in the last two weeks.  This is not ok.  Bring a fully charged iPod.  Some musical recommendations are:
*Science and Faith- The Script
*21- Adele
*Dosage- Collective Soul
*Sigh No More- Mumford and Sons
*Graceland- Paul Simon
These will keep you busy listening to good music and great lyrics and will distract you from the bad dub of Jackie Chan on the big TV up front.

5. Have a look.
The views from the windows of the buses are often fascinating.  We’ve driven through huge cities, tiny villages, dusty construction sites and lush valleys.  Pass the time enjoying the view and thinking how very very lucky you are to be on a bus in Ecuador!

Gorgeous view from the bus


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *