Saturday, February 8, 2014

A day in the life.

You wake up before dawn, put on the same clothes you've been wearing for the past three days, and hope the hostel staff have put breakfast out early for you.

They have... most of the time.

You wolf down your corn flakes, throw your makeshift lunch into a backpack (almost forgetting to grab the bag from the refrigerator, which you've only actually done once but almost do every time), and head to the bus stop.  You wait.

The bus you know you need never comes.

You look for any sign of assistance - a ticket vendor, a posted schedule, a sign with your destination in the bus windshield, a young person who might possibly speak a little bit of English.  With assistance from one or many of those, you figure out where and when to catch the right bus.  You thank whoever helps you in two wrong languages before getting it right in their language.

They smile... usually.

You double-check your destination with the bus driver.  He nods (because it's never a she).  This time you thank him in the correct language on your first try.

He smiles... almost always.

You sit near the front, tracking time and watching for city signs, street signs, destination signs.  You don't really have to do this because the bus driver knows you have no idea where you're going and he'll let you know when to get off.

But you do it anyway.

Sometimes the bus driver plays the radio.  Usually it's crappy American pop, but sometimes it's throwback '70s songs or music from the country you are visiting.  Or the news.

Usually, though, it's crappy American pop.

You listen to conversations around you.  You understand a word here or there but otherwise you have no idea what's being said.  Sometimes they ask you if you speak their language.  When you apologize and say no, they talk to you in their language anyway.

You smile... always.

Sometimes they speak a little English and you share an awkward but pleasant conversation.  You remind yourself to memorize "I only speak English" and "your country is beautiful" in every local dialect going forward.

(You constantly forget to do this.)

You reach your destination.  The driver waves at you to exit, and you step off the bus to find the nearest map or information booth.

Crickets.  Nothing.  Nada.

So you wander.  You pick a direction and see what happens.  Nine times out of ten, you end up where you intended to be.  Eight times out of those nine times, it takes you twice as long to get there than if someone pointed you in the right direction at the beginning.  Seven times out of those eight times, this is just fine with you.

(Occasionally, though, it sucks.)

You enjoy your destination.  It might be raining, or hot, or cold, or hard physical work, or windy, or steady uphill, or loud, or mentally exhausting, or crowded.

Or all of those.

You might enjoy it right from the start, or it might take a little while - an hour, a day, a month - to understand your enjoyment.

Doesn't matter, you enjoy it.

And each time you start the process all over again, you say a tiny little thank you to The Universe.

For everything.

This is not every day of our lives right now, but it's definitely half or more of our days.  And whether we're going into the town center, or 13km out of town, or to the next country, this has become our routine.

some days it involves a lot time spent doing this

and schedules annotated in foreign languages

and/or a blurry map

Most days it involves something amazing...

... like an awesome view

... or a ridiculous photo op

... or maybe an adorable goat 

Every day is good... but those are the great days.


  1. women aren't allowed to drive in those countries you visit, hence the male bus driver

    1. Wrong. We haven't been to any of those countries yet.