Bus Ride Through The Flames

The bus was crowded with humanity, produce, and animals. The stuffed wreck entered the first village along a narrow cobblestone road. Demonstrators milled around us. Fires smoldered along the highway and we were eventually stopped by a crowd who had blocked the road with burning carpets and tires. I was the lone Norte Americano on the bus and nervously watched the driver argue and yell back at the stick armed men who circled the front of the bus. I hunched down thinking to myself…did I see this scene in a movie? I looked at the back of the bus for an exit in case the argument out front escalated. Just then the bus lurched forward. The driver accelerated and we drove over the smaller of the fires burning in front of us. This was the first of several villages with burning roadblocks. Arriving in Quito I walked back to the hotel through a haze of tear gas. I immediately went to the bar and ordered a drink. A couple sat down who I had met earlier in the trip and informed me that the demonstrations were not directed at tourists. The government had raised the price of bus fare and the locals were quite upset. They also told me to travel in the afternoons as the demonstrations only occurred in the mornings. I gathered my belongings and boarded another bus back south that afternoon. The trip back went without incident as we weaved our way around the smoldering fires. Quito, Ecuador