Nightmare to New Orleans


One of my worst ever journey experiences happened when I was a UK exchange student at Frostburg State University in the USA. I really wanted to go to New Orleans for the New Year celebrations. As I could not persuade anyone else to go with me, I decided to go it alone. I wanted to take the train from Washington DC but Iíd left it too late to get a seat and the only other option was 36 hours on a Greyhound bus. My American friends tried to talk me out of it but I was adamant that, if this was the only way I could get to New Orleans, then I was going to do it.

My misgivings started when I arrived at the bus station which was in a very run down area of DC. They grew as I boarded the bus and looked at the other clientele. I chose my seat very carefully near to some nice looking young women with children and piled things on the other seat so that no-one could sit next to me.
At first all was fairly quiet until we left Virginia and started getting more into the Deep South. Many of the people getting on the bus seemed to be either drunk or drugged or determined to get that way.
Although there were prominent signs on the bus prohibiting alcohol and drug use, the driver was definitely turning a blind eye. People kept lurching to the toilet in the back of the bus to be sick. A terrible aroma started to percolate though out the bus and we females sprayed perfume in an effort to try and disguise the smell.

The journey seemed interminable as we meandered through the South. In the middle of the night the bus stopped in Mobile and an old lady got on. Despite all my belongings piled high and the fact that there were plenty of spare seats, she clearly indicated that she wanted to sit next to me. Reluctantly I removed my items and let her sit down. She started to talk but with such a broad accent that I really could not understand a word and was reduced to making yes or no noises, in what I hoped, were appropriate places. She must have talked for two hours without stopping until she decided to visit the terrible toilet. One of the girls with the babies gave me a sympathetic look and leaned over, ďDonít her mouf never get dry,Ē she said. Ilaughed so much at this that I could hardly keep a straight face when the old lady returned and continued her monologue as if there had been no interruption.

I heaved a sigh of relief when she eventually departed and piled my belongings next to me again. I was very glad Iíd done so because later on a very drunk Texan with a guitar got on, sat next to a lone female and started serenading her. I shuddered at the thought that it could have been me.

We eventually arrived in Atlanta in the small hours. I woke up wracked with thirst and got off the bus to find something to drink. I had taken out my contact lenses to sleep and really could nít see much
without them. I started walking towards a drinks machine with a guy standing next to it. ďThatís right baby, come closer, cometo daddy,Ē he muttered, as I peered at him short sightedly. As I came closer and saw his flamboyant clothes and jewellery I realised that he was one of the guys who hang around bus stations looking for naÔve, lonely young female runaways. I rushed back to the relative safety of the bus.

When I eventually arrived in New Orleans all I could keep thinking was that in four daysí time I would have to face another 36 hours back to Washington DC. I was already dreading it. But thatís another storyÖ..

J Morrison

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