If you're twenty and travelling around the country with your backpack, the overnight bus, including a meal is a great option, especially because it saves the price of a hotel. However, if you're in your sixties, and feel absolutely miserable running on only a few hours sleep, not so much. We were by far the oldest people travelling this way, and now I understand why!
Arriving at the bus station was mad chaos when our driver dropped us off and pointed us in the direction of what looked like the right check in counter. There was no sense of a line, and people were approaching the check in only to be turned away. I used a trick that Bryce and I figured out when navigating the train and subway system in China; approach someone who looks like they know what they are doing and ask them to help. Thus we met Ingrid from Holland and Pierre from France. They were a young couple in their twenties who are Peruvian bus pros, and they helped guide us through the check in process, then shared stories of their months long adventures in Peru while we waited for our bus.
The bus was lovely, a double decker, with fully reclining seats, blanket and pillow. We left Arequipa at 9:30 pm and I fell asleep as soon as I closed my eyes. However, a few hours later, I needed to use the bathroom, but the door to our compartment was closed tight. No matter how hard I tried, I just could not open it, so I went back to my seat and prayed for someone else to feel the urge soon. I must have dozed off, because I was sure that I heard Marianne crawl across me and go out to the bathroom. When she came back, I was standing at the door, ready to pounce. "I was locked in!" I whispered in distress to my good buddy, only it wasn't Marianne at all, just some very confused looking woman who was half asleep looking at me like I was crazy. She just blinked her eyes and continued to her seat. As I stepped through the open doorway and the door closed tight behind me, it occurred to me that I better try the door to see if I could get back in! Oh no, that darned door was closed tight! I knocked lightly on the door, hoping that the woman I had just accosted would come to my rescue, but no luck! Hmmm, I was standing in a little hallway in the middle of the night, locked out of the main carriage, I might as well use the bathroom.
Once in the bathroom, I needed to figure out how to get out. I said a little prayer for help, as I definitely did NOT want to spend the rest of the night in there! It suddenly occurred to me that perhaps after unlocking the door and turning the doorknob, maybe I just had to push real hard. I gave the door a hard shoulder shove, and sure enough, it popped open! I did the same thing to get into our sleeping compartment, and presto, I was in! I'm sure that the woman that I accosted is still wondering who the midnight wanderer she met on the bus was all about, though!
We finally arrived in Nazca at 7:15 am, excited to see the lines, but feeling like a couple of old dishrags.