Hop on the bus, Gus

Sometimes in life you go through an experience filled with so many poignant moments that it takes a few hours or a good nights sleep to digest. Yesterday on the bus ride home from Monterrey Jill and I had one of those experiences. After a long day tramping through the third largest city in Mexico we arrive back at the central bus station for the ride back to Hidalgo. Our trip to Monterrey was fairly uneventful. We ended up on the non-directo bus (Did we have a choice?) which stops along the side of the road for anybody and everybody who can pay the fare. Early in the morning the bus was full of a quiet group of folks who seemed to be just going about their day on the way to Monterrey. Count us among that group.

The fun really began on our way back. Like any good climb, it ain’t over till you are back down. In our case back in Hidalgo, getting into our van (which might or might not have been towed, parted out, or tagged) and rolling back to La Possada. Our bus shoved of at 4:26 PM only partially filled. Yep you guessed it, we were going to stop and get anybody who could pay the fare. But before we got out of the station the driver was opening the door for a guy to get on board and sell chocolate bars and nuts. This guy wandered up and down the aisle hoping to sell us some snacks or sodas. We would then inch forward in the line of busses and the guy hopped off before we left the yard. Oh this was after some guy hopped to sell snacks before our departure. Then we leave the bus station and begin to wind our way through the streets of the big city.

We round the corner and past one of those pay-by-the-hour motels. You know the kind with the inner courtyard entrances where you can park in these carports covered by curtains. Well maybe you don’t know the type, but they got them down here in Mexico. A lady is walking out of the entrance and flags down the bus. I won’t judge her profession, but let me set the scene. Short skirt, black wrap, high heels with those Cleopatra type lace wraps that go up the calf, big hand bag, hickeys all over her chest, lots of make up and perfume. She takes the empty seat right behind us. Thank goodness the bus windows are open.

Next up was another guy selling chocolate bars of some sort. Fairly routine by now. I think he paid the fare. Bus 158 to Hidalgo was filling up quite nicely. We then wheel over to an official looking enough bus stop (they actually sell tickets at the building all the people are standing in front of). I spot an older guy with a guitar milling about the front of the line, but not quite in line. I secretly hope he makes the cut. Jackpot. Within minutes we are being saranded by this fellow from the back of the bus. Awesome. Or is it?  We still have a good 45 minutes left on this trip. He sings a few tunes and paces the aisle for pesos. Earning enough for his trip he hops off a few kilometers after he boarded. I watch him hop up an a wall of a house and start to sing as if there is someone or something on the patio. I don’t see anyone or anything.

About the time our crooner steps off a young guy with a sign around his neck that says something about San Juan 3:16 gets on. He starts handing out little pieces of paper and then launches into a speech that could save your soul. Provided you understand Spanish. Two young girls in the aisle keep playing American hip hop on their cell phone. People stare out the window. The lady sitting behind continues to text. The guy says his piece tries to collect some dinero and hops off the bus as quickly as he hopped on.

What’s next? Nothing. A calm comes over the bus. A man walks by and checks everyone’s tickets. A cell phone continues to play Big E as a girl mouths along. People stare out the window. We’re almost to Hidalgo, almost done with this experience. The return trip is always more fun. I guess its a lot like riding the bus when you are a kid.  All the good times happened on the way home from school.

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