Having ridden in my share of Chilean buses, I was very
saddened, but not quite shocked by the story that came out yesterday of a bus accident on a steep mountain road near the
city of Arica in the north part of the country. I had several rather perilous experiences in that country during the
year-plus I lived there. The details of the crash are still in dispute: did the driver fall asleep at the wheel or did
he swerve to avoid a truck in his lane? Either way, the bus and all its passengers careened off the side of the road
and tumbled down some 300 feet, killing 12 elderly American tourists returning to
their cruise ship after an excursion.
Some of these passengers were from the East Coast, and their relatives
are in obvious mourning. There is another sad detail to the story, one that you can imagine is all too typical for buses
in third and second world countries (I have no idea what the actual "worldness" classification of Chile is,
but I put it in the Second World category, even if there is technically no such thing). Anyway, according to reports, it seems
that the bus was unregistered and not authorized to transport passengers, which makes the whole tragedy even more,
well, tragic. We’ll have to see how it plays out, but for now, you can’t help but feel real sorry for the lost
lives, and experience some personal concern about bus travel in foreign countries.