Sunday, June 07, 2009


I was supposed to leave at 8am last Monday. But buses just started making the trek again from here to Mexico so things were confusing but the guy who owned the transport assured me they'd show. As it approached 10am I started to get grumpy so I say it right, dude, I need to get my ass to Mexico. I knew I had a good twelve hours to go and I don't really want to arrive in the middle of the night. Fuck it, he says, I'm taking you myself.

We'd been talking for a few hours now and I already liked him, strangers sometimes have a way of making sense right off.  So I happily jumped in his car prepared for the first 5 hour leg of my trip, the one that would take me out of one border and into another with a no mans land in between.  As he's getting gas in his car he gets a call.  He looks at me and smiles the bus just drove past us so we jump back in the car and catch up to the bus which pulls over and lets me on in the middle of the road. He's yelling, my new friend have a good trip call me if you need a ride back.

The bus is full of backpackers, Israelis and Brits and an American or two.  I settle in and pull out my book.  I'm in this thing now and so far I've only got a ride across the border, the rest will still need some figuring out. I read for awhile and fall asleep.  At the border the driver tells us to get out and go through immigration and he'll meet us on the other side.  We do and after the free zone we have to do it again but this time it's Mexico.  Bienvenidos.  

The countries are so different right away, here is all Dos Equis and street tacos and everything is in spanish.  I go through customs and they search my bags and I always, always think of Midnight Express in these moments, like somehow someone stuck a kilo in my bag but of course no one ever has and they wave me through, machine guns at their sides. 

I sit on the curb and it's hot and I am at a border and no one knows I'm here.  I'm on the road even if it's just for a day and it makes me want to keep going, that backpacking sort of travel where things happen and everything unfolds.  I look up at the sun and realize I need to make sure the bus doesn't leave without me.

This transport ends at a bus station and I have no idea when I can catch another bus to go up north.  I learn quickly the next bus doesn't leave for two hours (fabulous) and it's a six hour trip (super fabulous) but it's less than $20 for the whole ride.  So I buy my ticket and wait some more. I'm a dork at bus stations, I am always sure they are going to leave without me and I can't understand a thing folks are saying so I am anxious.  I eat a bad looking taco because I am not sure when I'm eating again.  My cell phone doesn't work and I forgot to exchange enough pesos and I ran out of US dollars a long time ago.  I shake my head.  I wait.

I finally board the bus and it's a nice one this time, air con and decent seats.  I don't realize the seats are assigned so I of course sit incorrectly and am promptly booted but at least he took pity on me and pointed me in the right direction. I read and fall asleep and look out the window and somehow six hours make their way gone.  

I get off the bus at my destination and get in the first taxi I see. I only have a name of a hotel and we settle on a price first because I'm still peso poor.  We drive in silence, I roll down the window and lean my head back and breathe deep, I love the smell of travel, it's intrigue and exhaustion and solitary and a bit on the edge. I'm both sad and happy today is almost over.  

We pull up at the hotel, my friend she has money and insists on staying in nice places and even offers to pay so what the hell, I can suck it up. My dusty flip flops hit the marble floor and a porter dressed in a suit actually wants to carry my piece of crap backpack and I feel embarassed, both for being here and for being me.  They stop me and ask if I am a guest here and I am not surprised in the least. I promise I clean up well I say and they smile the smile that richer people than me are much more used to. Me, I much prefer the dusty road and straight talk, street tacos and a cold cheap beer. All of a sudden I see my friends and they scream a happy scream. I'm finally where I've been trying to be.

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Omaha Mama said...

You are so brave. I say that a lot, huh? But really, I get nervous traveling alone in the States. And there you are, crossing borders and hopping on buses. Awesome.
I hope you enjoy your stay at the hotel. It sounds fabulous.

ewe are here said...

Glad your trip went relatively smoothly. Enjoy your 'luxury' hotel. :-)

krista said...

i'm in awe of you. i really am.

flutter said...

you never cease to amaze me with your words. You are both satiating and stoking my wanderlust

Bon said...

i haven't travelled alone in a long time but man, this made me want to. just that feel of my head high and my bag on my back and i almost imagine i could be anyone anywhere.

and the border, the heat, the ever take a bus between Thailand and Cambodia? 'cause you brought me back there but maybe only 'cause i've never been south on this continent.

in my dreams tonight i'm riding a bus down to see you, Jen. ;)

Redneck Mommy said...

I miss you so much.

Your words are like nectar. I can't get enough of them for they are the closest thing I have of you.

I hold them close to my heart, friend.


painted maypole said...

glad you made it. enjoy the time, and the trip back!

Cold Spaghetti said...

I feel you.

I'm glad you got to do the back and forth thing. Looking forward to your reflections on it.