Despite nearly falling asleep in my bowl of cazuela at lunch on Saturday, (really, f*cking cazuela again?) I pulled myself together and sent my sorry-hungover-ass packing out the back gate of the farm and trudged through the mud to the colectivo (shared, fixed route taxi). I had committed to going to a fellow volunteer’s birthday carette in Valpo and decided that despite my lack of sleep, pounding headache, not-quite-right stomach and the sheer ridiculousness of the previous night’s antics, I wasn’t going to back out. Getting to Valpo from the farm is no easy feat despite the fact that it’s only 40 miles. In a car, it takes roughly 45 minutes to an hour but guess who doesn’t have a car and thus has become a defacto expert in rural public transportation. The journey from the farm in Hijuelas is of epic proportions. It involves said slog through muddy fields to the colectivo which then takes me to La Calera (where I teach), roughly 30 minutes. From the colectivo stop, it is several blocks on foot through a city that will likely never appear in your Lonely Planet to where I hopefully find a bus waiting (theoretically it should be that seamless but somehow, never is).
The busses, which range from relatively peaceful and efficient with a friendly and helpful asistente (flight—errrr bus attendant), to, raging rolling disco, to, “what exactly did I do to earn such bad karma that I have ended up in the mercy of this crazy, unlicensed, overly-aggressive, whack-job of a bus driver who is surely going to a. run us off the road or b. run over the pint-size-Chinese-made-clown-mobile in front of us thus killing: the driver, Ignacio; his 4 kids (all named Ignacio and Ignacia); each kid’s respective mother (who needs marriage…or contraception); his grandparents (Francisco and Francisca); two cousins (Fernando and Fernanda) and his neighbor’s friend’s uncle—did I mention it was a two-door?
Speaking of bus attendants I have oft wondered what exactly motivates someone to become one—I mean is it like a hierarchy thing? Maybe it’s some kind of apprenticeship; “well young Juan, first you have to be driver’s b*tch before you too are able to safely guide this over-sized double-decker pulling-a cargo-trailer up-and-down the only highway in our ridiculously long and skinnier than Lindsay Lohan before she went to rehab country. Now, turn up the radio, clean my windshield and polish my God-damn shifter.”