Wednesday, July 12, 2006


last night i had the worst bus ride of my life.

mind you, this is coming from someone who's been in bad buses, who traveled from raghadan to the university of jordan in shitty 10 piaster busses, who traveled from syria to jordan in a bus that can easily fit 70 passengers (yes, a smelly double-decker it was), but managed to rent it along with 5 other friends ALONE because no one else would ride it. so, when i say the worst bus ride of my life, it was really something awful.

the company that charters these buses is called trust. i had the misfortune of having to use one because some idiot bought us one-way JETT tickets to aqaba that morning. yes, we were going there and not sure when we were coming back. idiot. anyway, JETT's bus on the way to aqaba was really pleasant: AC, snacks, a rather comely stewardess who despite her jordanian accent made the ride a bit more bearable and the ride itself was smooth. all was well that morning.

on the way back that afternoon we bought a ticket on trust buses because JETT was fully booked (three buses, all full). It was a bit more expensive, but i was thinking "dammit, these guys MUST be better than JETT". i actually banged my hand aginst the counter in enthusiasm (the guy who sold the ticket eyed me weirdly). how gravely mistaken I was.

as soon as I got on the bus, the heat was shocking. apparently they had turned on the AC a few minutes before so it took a good 2 hours for the bus to cool down. but really, that wasn't the bad part. the bad (not worse) part was that there was something terribly wrong with the suspension. instead of gracefully gliding the bus over bumps and holes, this suspension actually magnified the bumps: if we had bothered with counting the times we were thrown out of our seats, we would've presented an extremely accurate estimate of the number of bumps between amman and aqaba. not a single person was able to sleep, sit, read (i literally could not keep my eyes on the same line to complete it) or do anything one might think of doing on a bus. some suicidal individuals actually asked for nescafe. one of them shared the cup with his pants after a particularly exciting bump that nearly collided my head with the roof of the bus.

but of course, that alone would not qualify the ride to be one of the worst. the bus driver, who seemed to have some urgent appointment he was late to in amman, pushed to ailing bus to its too-near limits. you could see other buses, trucks and cars zip by on our right; the driver overtaking them like a brave warrior. i believe he even honked a speeding s class out of our way (look at that wus, doing only 120 kmh!). but what troubled me most was the sense of lateral acceleration we were getting, like we were on a large constant bend to one side or the other. i looked to the front of the bus, and lo and behold! the damn thing was swaying across the width of street. not only was the bus shaking like we were preparing butter (i believe some ladies breast-feeding actually did develop butter), nor only was the driver in a race against his old record of getting to amman in less than 2 hours, but the bus did not drive straight: the driver had to fight to keep it straight.

thankfully, i had a light lunch before i got on the bus.

but that wasn't the worst part. around an hour before we got back to amman, the bus decided it had had enough and blew two hatches on the floor near the back (right next to my seat) and hot air started flowing into the bus (yes, both hatches were right above the engine). we whistled the driver to stop (miraculously, he did), lifted the carpet, and saw that two boards on the floor (which i believe are meant as engine access) had actually blown out of place. we replaced them, banged them in place (when i say we, i mean the passengers; the driver, in his haste to get to amman, would not waste a minute to come and see what the problem was) and said our prayers so that we can arrive safely. after the driver took off, i started feeling hot air against my ankles again. i looked down and the hatch, under the carpet, had lifted a bit again (it felt alive). so i put my foot down on it. my foot stayed there till we got to amman. the other hatch (which was next to seat behind me) was secured in place by a bag one of the passengers had with her.

eventually, the bus got to amman in one piece. us passengers got there in one piece that was badly bruised. the driver, all grin, got down and started chatting to other drivers, probably comparing records on how fast he got us to amman on the sick bus (the steward, male, smelly, said that "this bus should not have been used today because it needs maintenance." no shit).

guess what company i'll be using next time i go to aqaba. idiot.


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