There are a lot of things for tall, lanky gringos to dislike about Peruvian buses. Ear-splitting cumbia music, champion Peruvian bus-sleepers cranking their seats down into your knees, and inexplicably closed windows when temperatures soar (and somehow everybody else on the bus is wearing several layers).
But on the road from Arequipa to Cuzco, we found bus nirvana. After our Jamie Fox movie had ended (entertaining despite being in spanish with spanish subtitles), and the menu had looped several times, I finally worked up the courage to walk up to the front of the bus, open up the DVD player cabinet, and turned it off. To my surprise, the bus crew made no response - no second movie, no rush to put on music. Silence reigned.
And then it happened. A quechua woman stood up in the back and began to sing. We were rolling through beautiful Andean highlands, past rivers, mountains, and herds of llamas, listening to beautiful traditional songs in a bus with 2 open windows. Add to that our awesome new friend Shanna*, and we had truly achieved bus nirvana.
*From New Hampshire, she used to live in Cuzco and was visiting friends there. We had a lot of great conversations, and she had some helpful advice about Peru in general. She also said she would read the blog, so Hi Shanna!