Episode Seven – The Thing with Buses
“I ACTUALLY have a bad history with buses. The year before moving here to Ireland, my friend Danielle — we went to college together — invited me to go with her on her company trip to Costa Rica.
“She was in between boyfriends and I was in between pay cheques so a free trip sounded fantastic.
“I had never been to Costa Rica and the plane and landing left much to be desired. But the transportation issue was not the plane or the landing, it was the bus from the airport to the resort, which was far away, and it was seven rings of Hades hot outside.
“The bus was not air conditioned, so it was six rings of Hades hot inside. This was unfortunate but not concerning until we broke down in the middle of nowhere, which happened to comprise all points between the airport and the resort.
“All I see is dirt, wimpy trees, shacks with no people and a horde of anorexic animals. I think to myself, ‘So this is how my life will end. I am going to be eaten by starving goats’. They have probably been dreaming of me all week and now, here I am. Fresh roasted tourist.’
“My one weapon, the nail clipper that I was forced to pack in my checked baggage, is not accessible. No cell service either, and did I already mention how hot it is?
“Fortunately, another bus soon rescued us from the circling goats and we eventually made it to what was an absolutely beautiful oasis complete with a welcome reception and unlimited top-shelf liquor.
“The next afternoon — which was when I finally woke up — I must have thought I had a feed bag strapped onto my head. Danielle too. We appeared to be trying to eat our way to the bottom of the lunch buffet.
“Two and a half hours later, we decided to draw straws to determine if we were going back to the room for a nap or if we would take the bus into town for some shopping and walking around. Short straw for going into town. Long straw for the nap.
“We were both really hoping for the nap, but Danielle pulled the short straw twice and after I pulled the short straw three times in a row, we went to the room and changed into our walking shoes.
“We hop on the late afternoon bus into town and have a fun few hours of marketplace shopping. By the time we catch the shuttle heading back to the resort, it is dark.
“We drive long enough that we must be very near to the resort when we abruptly stop. Everyone is rattled out of their semi-stupor and immediately looks to see what the problem is. There is another tourist bus stopped in front of us and a big yellow school bus (the local version of public transportation) in front of that bus that has stopped in the middle of the road with its front end facing our direction.
“It’s late and our busload of passengers are tired and anxious to get back to the resort. The driver says that he can’t make it around either side of the stalled bus. One side is too close to the mountain to pass and the other side has a small shoulder and a steep drop off into nothingness, making it too dangerous to attempt.
“The passengers are revolting. ‘How far is it to the resort? We’ll walk.’
“The driver turns off his headlights to highlight just how dark it is. Very dark. And let’s not forget that we’re in the jungle, surrounded by wild animals that like to come out when? In the dark.
‘Okay, then call for another bus to come and pick us up on the other side of the stalled bus.’
‘No communication. No other drivers.’
“As the passenger restlessness rises, the driver hops out and walks to the other bus. He returns, hops in, throws the bus in gear and says, ‘Let’s try it’.
‘WAIT! WAIT! WAIT! Let us out here and pick us up on the other side.’
“The bus driver isn’t listening (or opening the door). He’s driving the bus onto the shoulder with the drop off into nothingness that was too dangerous to attempt just 15 minutes earlier.
“Danielle is screaming for everyone to get to the right side of the bus (to shift the weight away from the nothingness) and she jumps up and promptly plants her generous backside into some poor woman’s face.
“I think the bus driver figured death was better than listening to the gringos whine and groan anymore.”
TOMORROW: “So I got dressed and hoofed it over to Hillbilly’s. I had never been in there before, there’s usually a line, so I figured it was probably good.”