The woman at the ticket window contradicts everything I was told about the journey.
Different time, different route, different stopping points.
But what she says makes sense
I trust I'm understanding her
I trust that she's understood me.
I buy my ticket.
The driver knows my stop
I breathe easier
and sit in seat 34.
Seat 33 strikes up conversation
He overheard me speaking to the driver
my stop is about 30 minutes after his
Reassured, the nervousness fades.
Now the man who took our tickets at the bus door comes on board
He calls out seat numbers and tells them they must get off.
He calls my number
Recoge sus cosas y baje, mi amor.
I do what I'm told
33 joins me outside
Clustered outside the departing bus
we're told that the rains have washed out part of the highway further south
we have to take a different bus that will take us the other way around
1 and 1/2 hour to wait.
I buy lunch
a young man sits across from me
devouring greasy, fried chicken with his fingers.
I eat my rice and beans with knife and fork.
His eyes are indifferent to his surroundings
he's seen it all
but when he talks to me
everything I say opens his eyes wider
as if all my responses are a surprise.
and I'm back on the bus
seat 18 now
I see 33 board
he smiles and sits further back
The other passengers are talking
there's been an accident in the mountains.
The engine starts and we pull out of the station
the girl next to me crosses herself
and falls asleep.