↑This, my friends, is as comfortable as it got on the eight hour, Eurolines bus ride to Madrid from Bordeaux.
The man in the photograph was traveling from Holland and had just spent the past 36 hours on a bus. He has a fear of flying, he explained, and (somehow) highly prefers…this. While he was quickly able to find a suitable sleeping position on the overnight voyage, I sat restlessly at my window seat staring out into the misty night, lit by a brilliant full moon.
My father had mentioned on our way to the bus station that we would be driving through something called the Pyrenees. It sounded vaguely familiar, but not in any concrete way. A mountain range that separates France and Spain. Splendid, I thought – a nice change of scenery. What I hadn’t realized until we were well on our way, was that we would be traversing the mountains in the dark. Our bus departed at around 10:45 p.m.
By midnight we had begun ascending, winding and tunneling our way across the Pyrenees at an alarming speed. Although obviously not on strike, I couldn’t help but wonder if the Spanish bus driver was taking his political frustrations out on the gas pedal. The pavement was wet from a recent downpour. His driving reflected that perhaps he hadn’t noticed.
We pressed on full speed, passing tractor trailers and cars alike on the dark, two-lane road. Blue signs with little white arrows stood at the edge of every curve, marking the edge of every treacherous cliff. Some curves had only three arrows, while others had six or nine. I sat wondering in terror whether this corresponded to the height of the cliff, or the amount of danger that we were in if we didn’t turn hard enough.
All was quiet, save the engine and a Spanish guitar softly playing on someone’s portable in the back of the bus. Finally, we climbed to what I imagined was the top of a mountain.
The moon peeked out behind scattered clouds and for a moment, I could see the silhouette of giants. Round and dark mounds rose from a dense fog that skirted their feet. We were high up, but just how high I couldn’t tell. It was a beautiful sight and I thought to myself that perhaps the Pyrenees were more beautiful at night anyway.