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Brits abroad on South America’s busses

Gringos seem to be an endless source of amusement for locals on South America’s buses.
On a 16-hour trip from La Paz to Tupiza in Bolivia, there was a sudden eruption three seats back. A six-foot, bearded Englishman was bellowing at the top of his voice, in the poshest Home Counties accent: “I’m getting REALLY fucked off with you now!”
I turned around to see him pummelling a small Indian in the face, while screaming “NO NECESSITO!!!!” which translates, rather nonsensically, as “I don’t need.”

The locals seemed to think it was the funniest thing they’d seen in years.

On a bus from Quito into the Ecuadorian jungle, the driver put on a movie about a bus full of backpackers crashing over a cliff in the Brazilian jungle. The backpackers were then all slowly picked off one by one, drugged and murdered for their kidneys in an organ-dealing racket. The fresh-faced, British, gap-year students sitting all around me turned even more unnaturally white. An Ecuadorian woman in their midst howled with laughter.

191116513qnywox-lAs I queued for my bus from Bolivia to Paraguay, I was shoved aside by a beer-breathing Brit with a pierced lip. “LOOK! LOOK!” he bellowed at the official inspecting passports, pointing at his friend’s passport picture. “THAT’S HIM! HA HAAAAAAA! LOOK AT HIM! HAAAAAAAA HAAAAAAAA!”

The inspector looked nonplussed, but the local passengers all shook their heads, flashing grins of wonderment.

Once we were all on the bus, a trader hawking bootleg DVDs tried convincing the Brits that his wares were in English. The locals started guffawing.

“Hay Aymara y Quechua tambien?” they chortled, asking if the DVDs were also in Bolivia’s indigenous languages.


The locals seemed to understand that this was very amusing, but the Brits got revenge by sticking on a DVD they’d bought earlier – Son of Rambow.

No one in their right mind found that amusing.

Forty-six hours later, I arrived in Paraguay’s capital without any capital – I didn’t have a single Guarani to my name. I convinced a taxi driver to take me to a hotel via a cashpoint.

Six cashpoints later, I had no money and no sense of humour, but my taxi bill had gone through the roof. If I’d managed to extract any cash it was in danger of being spent at the nearest anger-dousing liquor store. Eventually I convinced my hotel to settle the taxi driver’s bill. I went to bed penniless, exhausted, and craving a bottle of Paraguayan cana.

This is extracted from Mat Ward’s excellent ebook, ‘Around the World in 80 AA’s where he tours the world investigating the phenomenon that is Alcoholics Anonymous.’ Buy it now.

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