This past weekend, a fellow Hoosier and I decided to spend a weekend away from Lima in Huanchaco, a beach town in northern Peru.
We took surfing lessons, played soccer on the beach, spent time with the locals. We explored archaeological sites, went shopping, danced the nights away. Up until the last hour, it was a picture-perfect getaway.
But then, disaster struck.
Our bus was set to leave late on Sunday night—11:45 p.m., we believed. We planned our day accordingly and left Huanchaco an hour and a half before its departure. Luckily so, as my friend realized she left her purse back in town about halfway through our taxi ride to the bus station. By the time we returned, learned that a new friend had set off to the bus station to bring the purse to us and got back in the taxi to set off again, we had lost about half an hour but still had plenty of time to spare to catch the bus, or so we thought.
When we arrived at the station just a bit before 11 p.m., it was practically deserted, save for our friend and a few travelers waiting in the station. Oblivious, we sat in the waiting area, chatting and telling jokes. Eventually I pulled out our tickets and our friend took a look at them. He looked down, looked up and just shook his head.
“The tickets don’t say that your bus leaves at 11:45 p.m.,” he said, taking the tickets to check with employees at the station. And surely enough, he was right—the bus was already well on its way back to Lima.
Apparently we had misunderstood the bus’s departure time due to confusion with military time—AKA we couldn’t subtract 12 from the 22:45 p.m. listed on our tickets, and the bus had left at 10:45, as it was scheduled to.
After a brief moment of panic exchanged between my friend and me, we couldn’t help but laugh. Leaving the station, riding in a taxi back to Huanchaco, we were giggling hysterically, unable to stop. How ignorant were we not to know how to read military time, or check with someone else just to make sure?
So maybe saying it was a “disaster” was a bit overdramatic. We were lucky enough to find a place to stay that night and book another ticket for the following day, and it will be quite the story to share with friends and family for years to come. But regardless, it was a lesson—from now on, we know to double check the times of anything, because clearly not everyone tells time like we do in the U.S.