Yeah, ok, so I cheated a little. After staring out across Panama’s Caribbean coast and finding my way to South America blocked by rough seas and banditos, I hopped a quick flight on Aero República from Panama’s Tocumen airport to the colorful city of Cartagena, Colombia. My flight time (from take-off to touch down) was exactly 29 minutes and 34 seconds. In comparison, my bus ride the following day covered a shorter distance yet lasted a whopping 26 hours and 48 minutes. I definitely gained a new perspective and appreciation for air travel.
After three weeks of buses and a boat, stepping on a plane felt really strange. Everything felt so fancy and formal–even the snack of cheddar cheese Combos and guava juice. Airplanes offer such a different world. The view of the turquoise Caribbean down below made me feel so disconnected from my own journey–which is exactly why I find taking the bus a much richer experience. Still, the two modes of transportation are also strikingly similar. In reflecting upon all this, I compiled the following list:
10 ways planes are just like buses
1. They’re made out of metal with long rows of windows that don’t open.
2. They both have two rows of seats that never recline back far enough.
3. Aisle seats towards the front are considered desirable.
4. You’re not allowed to talk to the driver when he’s driving.
5. They both have wheels that don’t always touch the ground.
6. They both encounter periodic turbulence which can be unpleasant.
7. Both offer free motion sickness bags.
8. If your bag doesn’t fit in the overhead compartment, someone takes it away from you and you get scared that you might never see it again.
9. The bathroom is all the way in the back–better to use it early on in the trip. Also, you can’t smoke in there.
10. Sometimes they are really late and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it.
Feel free to add to the list in the comments. As for me, I’ve made it to South America now and am absolutely loving it. Arriving here is a real benchmark for my journey: I have a new continent to cross and three weeks to do it in. Onward!
Andrew is currently back on the bus, and is traveling through Ecuador. Follow Andrew’s Twitter feed here @Bus2Antarctica, bookmark all of his blog posts here, see videos here, and get the full story on the project here. Photo by Andrew Evans.