Saturday, August 16, 2008

Buses and Vendors

Aug. 13, 2008

Buses are not always crowded, but more than often they are. Generally speaking I’ll be squeezed in between a slightly obese snoring Guatemalan male who is taking up half the seat while drooling on my shoulder and a nursing mother who is balancing three children on her lap, under her seat and in between her legs in order to avoid having to pay an extra fare. Rounding curves at lightening speed, it would be amazing that everyone doesn’t constantly tumble out into the isle, except we’re all pegged in place by the 30 or so people crammed standing into every last inch of remaining room on the bus.

This combination is made even more comical when stopped at a cola. Hoards of vendors come sprinting to the bus attempting to sell as much as possible before any one else can get on. They squeeze their way through the crowd, climbing over people and seats, slamming their baskets into unsuspecting heads and shouting their wares in the slow Spanish drawl typical of rural Guatemalans. ¡Chuchitos! ¡Hay chuchitos de pollo y de reeees! ¡Toma su chuchito caliente mamita! ¡Hay tortillas con carne, con pollo, chile relleno bien calentitos! ¿Qué le doy joven? I’m partial to chuchitos myself. My bus rides are no longer complete without one.

Colas are not the pain in my ass they used to be, now that I have gotten over my fear of street food and being left behind if I debarked the bus. They provide an opportunity for a snack, a bathroom break in the bushes and, best of all, a pause in the bouncing, swerving trip so I can actually read the Prensa Libre I bought with the intention of reading on the bus. I don’t get carsick from reading in a moving vehicle, but it’s impossible to read when you’re being thrown about like a barrel over Niagra falls.

I think I’m finally acculturating or adapting. Not that I still don’t have fits of madness where I swear profanities in English under my breath and elbow the guy in the gut who’s falling asleep on my shoulder. However, I am finally getting to the point where I can arrive at the other end of my journey without wanting to tear the head off of every person who looks at me the wrong way… or at least fall asleep on someone else’s shoulder.

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