Blogger Tirsh Beaver travelled by (not so) luxury coach from KZN to Jozi for Christmas – and has survived to tell the tale (but only just)…

Over the festive season my mother kindly offered to sponsor a ticket to go to Johannesburg… I did feel a flicker of excitement and then realised she meant a bus ticket. Well beggars can’t be choosers, so I accepted with gratitude.

Of course the day before the Christmas rush a certain bus company’s drivers, decided to go on strike causing all of us bus passengers to get a little nervy. We were like the wise men seeking the child in Bethlehem, we were all on a deadline – so to speak.

9am and no sign of our buses

By now the call centre agents of the various bus companies had exhausted their friendly banter and were curt – “Yes, yes the bus is coming!… click.”

So it was no surprise that the place was in a state of chaos. Surprisingly all 10 different bus services arrived at the same time. The passengers scrambled around like headless chickens looking for the right bus and right destination.

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I found the correct bus and dragged my daughter on board, eagerly scanning the bus for two seats together. Yay! There was a pair of seats.

I thrust her in them and charged back outside to make sure my bags hadn’t been pilfered.

Eventually I got a ticket for my bags and I returned. I settled into the seat and my daughter pointed out that there was a good reason the seats were conspicuously vacant. We had the prime position overlooking the on-board toilet.

My daughter pointed out that there was a good reason the seats were conspicuously vacant. We had the prime position overlooking the on board toilet

It appeared that the latch on the toilet door was faulty. It would fly open at any moment when the bus jolted over a bump or accelerated. It was to become our on board entertainment nightmare.

The first victim was a large lady who waddled down the steps. She was busy doing her business when the door jolted open – exposing her ample thighs and support pantyhose. Unable to heave herself up in a hurry, a kindly gent closed the door for her. She avoided eye contact upon exiting. So did we.

Next a man descended the steps – and it seemed we and the rear of the bus collectively held our breaths. Inevitably the bus hit a pothole, the door flew open revealing the poor chap, his undies half-mast and a mortified face. We politely looked away until he had sorted out the wardrobe malfunction.

Did I mention the air-conditioner was not working and we had a two-hour delay as we edged past a nasty accident on the N3?

Our driver – apparently an immigrant from Bangladesh – was in top spirits and greeted us with enthusiasm.

I’m not sure he was aware of the flicking sign on his dashboard saying “Rear axle warning”. My mild discomfort turned into fervent praying for a safe delivery.

A woman’s small baby wailed for the best part of the trip and to be honest I felt like wailing too. A deaf and dumb couple sitting close by signed at each other and ate a monumental amount of food. Then they fell asleep – and snored – very loudly. Luckily they could not hear it.

In the latter half of the journey the fumes being emitted from the cubicle were now vomit inducing. Hot and smelly urine and faeces were being sloshed around in the plastic tank… every time the door whooshed open we would now cover our noses and cough. Ugh!

A young child with a weak bladder did not seem to mind the voyeuristic looks of the passengers, and on visit number three he did a number two in full view of the passengers. I’m pretty sure he swaggered up the steps on that occasion.

Finally we arrived in Johannesburg hot, irritated and three hours late.

“Good trip?” asked my Dad with festive vigor. My daughter and I looked at each other and kept silent. Sometimes there are just no words!

Trish Beaver is a freelance journalist and blogger –