Love me them bus rides
First off let me say, if they find my body slumped over this notebook entry, dead with a big swollen knot on my back: it’s the wasp that done it.
This big feller seems to not want to leave my room, and when I told the boss lady what I was looking at she came in and took a couple swings at it with a towel, knocked it down behind my bed and pissed it off. Then she left. I’m just waiting for him to shake it off and come exact his waspy revenge.
It took most of the day to get here, Las Salinas de Nahualapa. The first bus was full by American standards and hot by pizza oven standards, while the second was equally hot but packed by sardine standards. I gave up my seat on the bench to a lady who was, shall we say, festively plump? Of impressive width? Hippopotamusly ample? On her lap she held a baby (another common condition) who was a scale model, and peered up at me from sharp eyes under a fleshy curve of forehead, then reached up her soft little bodybuilder arms and grasped at me.
I attempted to play/entertain, but the little Michelin critter had something in mind, though it took the toothless grandma in the seat across to translate it, that she wanted my water. Unable to refuse the adorable little behemoth I handed it over, she gummed the cap for a few minutes then fell sleep cuddling the bottle.
They really pack ‘em on those buses, and soon I was edged right out of the aisle into the airspace of a young couple sitting in the seat opposite, my culo hanging right in the poor young mother’s cara. The father looked out the window. The baby slept. I sweated and concentrated on being sublimely fart-free.
Soon there was no room to breathe, and a good deep breath would have been at someone else’s expense. I had an itch on my ankle I couldn’t scratch, which went from an itch to a generalized sort of soreness that eventually took me to a state of altered consciousness where I felt the burning along the soles of my feet but couldn’t think of anything to do about it.
A period of time longer than most summers passed, punctuated by occasional stops were they performed magic tricks which inevitably involved cramming even more people on the bus. The conductor guy would yell “get in get it, empty empty!” from where he hung out the open door, unable to get more than his toes inside.
I don’t mean this as a complaint, it’s another one of the “cultural experience” that one learns to love. And spending a couple hours pressing your crotch up against a stranger is a good way to make friends.
The engine chugged and rumbled, gears grinding their metallic agony. I nibbled the odds and ends purchased from the vendors who had eeled through the press as we loaded up in Rivas, and drank some sort of chocolate milk stuff from a little plastic bag after biting off the corner. The woman’s hair in front of me smelled like henna. The driver’s face was soggy clay expressionless except for one time he smiled the most radiantly happy smile I’ve seen in moons.
Then we were stepping down in Las Salines, I was meeting the radiant personages who run the library, school, and a farm. The sort of people whose service to their community and humanity is tangible holy. I briefly remember the missionary priest on the plane down from Houston who cut me off both getting on and off the plane.
Soon I was putting down my bag outside the room I’m now staying in, and chatting with the family while the mom cleans some stuff out. We sat in the ubiquitous plastic lawn chairs or long-service hammocks, talking about Nicaragua and giggling away from my attempts to get them to speak some English with me. I told them genuinely how happy I was to be here, especially to have the chance to get away from the tourist zones, where you can’t trust people as much, and into the countryside to meet authentic people. I think they took it as the gratitude and compliment that I meant it as.