The Bus Ride

It’s been a while since I’ve updated this, but hey – travel blogs abound on the net and I ain’t writing for money or fame.

[Photos here]

The last 3 months have been… shall we say turbulent? Not really. It’s been the opposite: we spent 60+ days camping at Pacific and Caribbean beaches. Boondocked in a few jungles, climbed up a few volcanoes, crossed some borders, etc.

Flash back 3 months from now, at the time the paragraphs below were written:

Here we are in San Maria del Tule, Oaxaca, MX – home turf of the Zapotecs and Mixtecs, among 16 other indigenous cultures. And, as it happens, home of the tree with the largest trunk in the world. Some people, notably hipsters and academics with a penchant for talk over action — or your girlfriend, if you’re one of the above — will try to convince you that size doesn’t matter. Do not believe them, they’re lying to you. As overheard by the tree of Tule: “Oh, look honey, it’s huge!” — gushes a young female tourist, pointing at it. “Yeah, well, it’s big, but, I mean… we have big ones at home too…”, nervously stammers the boyfriend, darting furtive looks around. Indeed, the tree of Tule is damn “yuuge” — even by POTUS standards, no arguing about it.

Next day.

We’re wearily walking the Oaxaca streets after a long day at the market, looking for a ride to take us back home. Down the street comes flying a bus, flashing a LED panel “JESUS ES MI GUIA” and “Oaxaca – Tule” in scrolling green, white and red letters. “Double whammy!” I exclaim and flag him, thrilled to be guided by the Savior while riding to Tule. The driver honks joyfully in acknowledgement and rushes past without slowing down. For good measure, he flashes a bunch of LEDs on the back of the bus. I flash him back with the bird, not to be outdone. This seems to work. A skinny torso, followed by a scruffy head emerges from the front door, hair spilled in the wind. The muchacho is hanging with one arm to the bus door and waving us hurriedly with the other to catch up. We sprint. The driver responds by accelerating, gotta love Mexican practical jokes. We persist and catch up right before a light turns to green, our last chance I reckon. We jump in through the back door as the driver takes his foot off the brake and speeds up again.

The setting in the bus is an interesting choice for a public transit vehicle. We’re sitting behind the driver, an opaque partition of black plexiglas dividing us. A thorn crowned Jesus plastered upon the partition is looking disapprovingly upon me, his face alive with white reflections from the LEDs adorning the ceiling. The in-dash Panasonic radio is blasting Ibiza techno to an audience of elder Zapotec women, the display glowing in the entire spectrum of the visible light.

We sit back, absorb the vibe and enjoy the ride. Thousands of miles away, I feel at home.

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