Friday, July 14, 2006

From Patzcuaro to Guadalajara to Chacala

The bus ride back home, from Patzcuaro to Chacala, was mostly interesting and okay. The downside was the road from Patzcuaro almost to Zamora was pretty uncomfortable for about two or three hours. Very, very curvy, and going up, up, up, and down, down, down. It was the middle of the night, and there were many abrupt, brake slamming, near stops as the driver came up on slower vehicles as we went around corners, or tried to pass on a curve and met a bus coming the other way. Very exciting. Children were vomiting and packages and cartons were flying around.

It was impossible to leave your seat to go to the bathroom, because you would be thrown all around. But nobody was trying to leave their seats anyway, becaue the aisle was waist high with cartons of food and various items for sale. Mostly straw and wool woven items.

When I arrived at the Patzcuaro bus terminal about 9:30om, I had a two hour wait. After spending some time re-packing, so that when they wanted to put my rolling pack under the bus I would be okay, I was looking around for something to do. Then one of the bus ticket sellers wanted to practice his English on me. He was from Colima and told me all about how wonderful it is. Finally, after using the toilet, which was free (no water to flush with and no toilet paper, but lovely toilet seats) because the bathroom lady guard had gonebhome, I wandered outside to where the buses arrive.

I was amazed. There were about 40 old Indio ladies (looked old anyway) and a few younger ones and a couple of men, and about 200 or 300 hundred containers of all kinds of food and god knows what. Apparently half the women/vendors were going to markets in Mexico City and the other half were coming with us to Guadalajara. When the bus finally arrived the ladies and their helpers and the bus baggage people spent about 45 minutes cramming everything under the bus. And then, after we were all seated, they filled the aisles with whatever was left over. Glad I went to the bathroom before we left, because there was no way to get to the back of the bus.

I loved watching the ladies organizing up the loading. They all seemed to be tiny, wearing many layers of skirts and shawls (rebozos). While we were waiting for the bus the ladies were mostly curled up on the cement floor, sleeping on blankets next to their piles of sales mechandise. Some were embroidering and other were visiting or doing child-care. Two of the ladies sat next to me on the bus, and kept smiling at me. We shared a bag of cookies, and they went to sleep. They didn't wake up until we reached Guadalajara. The mom and little girl behind me were among the vomiters, which wasn't pleasant.

It was sweet to see how quietly everyone (almost all women) worked together to load the bus. No loud discussion, just quietly organizing and stowing things away. And when the vomiting began, no one made a fuss and then was no loud talking. People just helped each other clean things up, sharing toilet paper and plastic bags to deal with things. I guess everyone expected the vomiting, because everyone seemed to be prepared.

When we got to Guadalajara I was the first person off, since I was sitting right behind the driver. A perfect location for observing the driver's daredevil driving style. Sitting there, I had a chance to prepare myself for the brake slamming because I could see the trouble coming. Other people didn't have that opportunity, and there were some pretty loud thumps and crashes in the back.

I was hurrying to catch the 5:00 bus to Las Varas (which was four Modules (little terminals) away, so I didn't get to see the unloading process. But I bet it was just as quietly and politely managed as the loading process.

I love how people here just quietly take care of business. No one much fusses about waiting or changes or whatever. They just keep and eye on what's going on, and chat and visit and sew or whatever while thet're waiting for whatever it is. Nice accepting attitude, one I am trying to adopt. With some success.

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