Posts Tagged ‘bus’

“You used a money belt the whole time, right?”

Back in Ecuador on the Worst Day Ever (See Spidey Sense), I met this Canadian guy named Tony. We kept in touch and decided to meet up in Lima and travel to Cusco and hike Machu Picchu together. Before I leave Ecuador, He warns me about the bus ride down to Lima.

“Blah blah blah. You should wear a money belt! Blah blah blah. The latinos see you as a target and will steal everything from you! Blah blah blah those buses get stopped/robbed all the time. Blah blah blah you should be using a money-belt all the time! You should never take it off! Blah blah blah BE AFRAID!”

I’ll be honest- normally I ignore all these warnings- but something about the tension of his voice, his stories, the fact that I had just gotten (poorly) kidnapped in Ecuador all made me think that maybe I was just getting lucky this whole time- and maybe my luck will run out soon. So I donned my uber-sexy-beige money belt and put everything of significant value in it (my iPhone, credit card and passport), arrived at the bus station late and barely made it onto the bus in time.

That was the most exciting part of the trip.

The ride was advertised to be 48 hours. You weren’t allowed to use the coach-toilet for “solid waste. Only liquid waste”. The bus stopped a few times to drop people off/pick people up but I never knew how long the stop was- so I just stayed on the bus, sitting,  cramped, next to a guy who snored and thought my seat was also his, for 52 hours. The added hours was due to getting stuck behind herds of goats a few times.

I got a lot of reading done. Did I mention I had 52 hours? If not, I’ll say it again. I sat, cramped, on a bus, with all my valuables in my money belt pressing against my bowels, constantly reminding me that I had to poop and I probably shouldn’t have eaten the on-board meals of white-bread, mayo and government-issued cheese slice. As a bonus, though, passengers got their choice of beverage: Inka Cola (tastes like bubblegum) or brown hot water (“tea”).

I won’t bore you with any details of the bus ride. Let’s just say it was long… and boring… The entertainment was endless, though: Movies played (with the audio blaring from the over-head speakers) from 8am until 10pm. If no movies were available then music would be pumped through that reminded me of a party bus. Some of the locals would dance in the isles or have arguments with their spouses.

I wish I could say that I was scared shitless, but that would be the opposite of what I was. I was full of shit and scared- because of a warning and anxiety that was given to me by someone who was unlucky many times throughout his travels. The worst part of the trip was not being able to poop which made me really uncomfortable.

Finally we get to Lima. Surprise, surprise, nothing bad happened on or to the bus. And this was the last time I used my money belt. I actually started using it as a bottle-cap holder but Chilean TSA wanted to search it because they thought this was suspicious.

MORAL: Don’t listen to other people’s fears. Listen to your gut.

Health tip: I found this out later- but if you drink lemongrass tea 1-2 days before your long journey, it acts as an anti-diarrhea agent or a non-cramping alternative to long-travel-time woes.

Wanna LISTEN instead?

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I’ve been making playlists like crazy lately in prep for my trip to S.E. Asia. One of them is a “top thirty(coughcoughsomething)” list of top songs for the past thirty(coughcoughsomething) years. Not listed on that list (but I added later) was the song “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)” By C+C Music Factory. I just wanted to point out that the 90’s was an amazing era of music. Funk music. Synthesizers. Simple melodies. Dance music that everyone knows…. Sigh. I miss the 90’s.

Anyway….

 

So flash forward to me trying to get to a RENT! performance (I’m the light-board operator). The Melbourne Metro decided it would be a great idea to close down some train lines for “maintenance” and re-route with buses. So, here is a whole train of people crammed onto a bus. It’s pissing rain and everyone is kinda pissed/miserable because of the whole situation/unexpected delays/etc. I’m trying to ward off my anxiety for being late by listening to the WHOLE ALBUM (yes, they had a whole album) of C+C Music Factory. I’m jamming out while all these people behind me are getting irritated at the whole situation.

Apparently I’m full-on dancing. Grooving in the isle of the crowded bus and just getting totally down with what’s blaring in my ipod. Someone taps me on the shoulder and asks “what are you listening to?” and I scream:

“EVERY BODY DANCE NOW! dun…dun.dundundun… dun.. dundundun… dundun.” and continue to groove.

 

Yes. I’m *THAT* person.

 

Note: this is the best part about traveling. The amount of people that you meet again after doing something like this is, like, .01%. And if you do meet them again, they become a friend for life.

 

What was awesome is that the whole mood of the train changed. Everyone started dancing/giggling/laughing instead of being pissy about the situation. Some commented that I should listen to “heaps good music like Akka Dakka” (translation to English: “You should listen to AC/DC because they are better”) but, mostly, the bus was in a better mood for the rest of the trip.

 

The moral of the story: You should ALWAYS dance like nobody’s watching on crowded buses to amazing 90’s music.

I think I’m in love with Nicaragua. The people, the atmosphere, the climate, the culture…. The sheer niceness of people just blows me away. Things that people do- when they don’t have to. I mean, why help the fluffy-haired gringa? When would that ever be a good thing to do?

I was reminded of this story from my college days where I sublet a room the summer. I needed a desk, so I bought one off craigslist, wheeled it down Boylston Ave and then it started raining… I ran faster with it, breaking off a wheel. When I got close to the apartment, I yelled out to my new roommates to help me, but they didn’t budge. Just sat on the stoop smoking cigarettes. I found out later that “where they come from” they –WERE- helping me by moving. (That is “helping” where they come from).

In Nicaragua I have had quite the opposite experience and I want to share my day yesterday:

I woke up early and, like every morning for a while, I went running around 7:30am. I ran up the mountain for about 20-25 minutes, then down. On the way down the mountain, I stumbled and fell right outside this pulperia (shop). Some old men saw me and rushed over to make sure I was ok. After I assured them I was fine, they offered me some coffee (that they, no doubt, grew/harvested/dried/ground themselves…. The best kind, IMO). I declined because I still had a mile or so to go.

Later that day, my friend Elyna and I left. We decided to hitch-hike from Jinotega to Sabaco. We stuck out our thumb and instantly a guy in a blue truck stopped. He told us he could only take us down 15K. We agreed anyway and hopped in the back. (note: the bus takes 2 hours to go 45km… so it’s better to hitch).  After a really fast ride, we hopped out and stuck out our thumbs again and got a semi-truck to stop. He opened up the back and we rode in the back of an empty semi-truck for the rest of the way.

Once we arrived in Sabaco, we ate (an amazing plate of chicken, rice, potatoes, plantains and a drink for 2.50$USD) we found a bus to take us to Esteli. That’s when we looked at a map and figured out that Esteli is NO WHERE NEAR Leon (where we both wanted to go. Elyna was trying to go north anyway, so she got on another bus to go north (to Honduras) and I hitched back down to San Isidro.

I should note: My Spanish is elementary at best. I can half communicate with a 3 yr-old, which I’ll talk about later.

So when I was hitching, this guy kept saying “ares moy mimosa” (it wasn’t until later that I figured out he was calling me beautiful (Eres muy Hermosa)… stupid accents). I just giggled and made faces or rode in silence. 30 minutes later, we arrived and he dropped me off at the bus station. I tried to pay him some money (for letting me ride in the cab and dealing with my piss-poor Spanish, but he wouldn’t even consider it. He told me to hurry (well, ok.. he just talked really fast and pointed) and I got on a bus where I sat next to a girl holding a chicken and took out my knitting needles and continued to knit my much-needed-belt. All these kids stared at me… in awe. I was, hands down, the most entertaining thing on the bus. I kept pointing to things outside (cows, chickens, goats, horses) and saying stuff like “el perro va woof!” and they would say “no! bow bow”.  “El Vaca va mooooooo!” and the kid would go “mawwww”. It was downright adorable/entertaining for all.

 

Why am I telling you all this?

Because most of the world things of third world countries as dangerous. They think that all these people living in “poverty” are crooks, criminals, thieves, rapists, murderers, or some other negative and awful words. I have found the complete opposite. In the states, we have a very “dog eat dog” mentality. In Central America (especially in Nicaragua) they do things that are kind. Simple things mean more to these people than anything else.

Also, fun fact, Nicaragua is considered the 2nd safest country in the western hemisphere (next to Canada.)

Week 1: complete.

I have done more this week than I did in 3 months working back home. I also feel fantastic! Accomplished! Healthy!

Here are some random stories/facts I’ve picked up:

  • Clinton Roca is a 57 yr old Kreole man who has worked on Spanish Creek for many years. He is “the horse man”. When trying to tame one, he was tying a rope and the horse bucked his head back and his thumb got caught in the rope and popped it off at the first knuckle. He also got kicked in the face by one and lost and eye and all his teeth. Yet, he laughs constantly and is one of the most pleasant and bravest man I know.
  • The farm I’m working at is all organic. The only chemical they use is against ticks (for the horses) and sometimes (during the wet season) against leaf-cutter ants. The food is amazingly flavorful.
  • Cilantro grows wild here. It’s like grass.
  • Fun fact: when you boil lemon grass, it tastes like fruit loop milk.
  • The spider monkey used to he prevalent around here, but there was a giant fire that forced them from Belize. I was lucky to see one the other day. Howler monkeys, on the other hand, are common and you can hear them everywhere. Their call sounds like dinosaurs.
  • Killer bees (African bees) are a nuisance here. You can actually hear them swarm towards you. When they land, they all pile on top of another to rest, making a fuzzy black blanket on whatever they landed on. They pollinate really well and there are no honey bees around, but they can be deadly. (if you brush them away, they release a pheromone that attracts the other bees towards you.) To kill them, you light a dead banana/palm tree branch on fire and put the fire between yourself and the bees. Light bees on fire.
  • Sitting on the bus, no one talks. They just stare out the window.
  • I went into the city to go snorkeling at Caye Cauker; an island off the coast of Belize. It’s basically a paradise.