Thursday, June 21, 2007

Guatemala #8: On the bus and off

I've been wanting to do an entry about buses, so was glad to see David's entry about buses in Nicaragua. It says pretty much all I wanted to say and more, plus it has pictures, so I recommend his post (titled David in Nicaragua #2: Transitastic) if you're interested. However, I do have these three transportation-related quotes that I'd like to share with you....enjoy!

1. "¡Mañana eche margarina, por favor!"
"Tomorrow, let's put margarine on ourselves, please!"

You should all try to imagine a context for this quote before reading on. In fact, I'll go on to the next quote and put the explanations later to give you time to imagine.

2. "¿Me puedes enseñar a desarmar el carro?"
"Can you teach me how to dismantle the car?"

3. "¡Esta bien vacio!"
"It's real empty!"

Flower on the patio outside my apartment

Numbers 1 and 3 are bus quotes, the point not being that the buses are packed extraordinarily full of people (which they are) but that these two quotes provided a way to enter into a small but important human connection with other people on the bus. This is a rare thing, as people ride the buses tired, zoned out, concerned with their safety, and above all putting up wih the uncomfortable physical situation until they can get off, often after a 40 minute to hour and a half trip.

The first quote was said by one woman to another as they were both trying to squeeze in between the 2 1/2 rows of people standing in the middle aisle, to get to the front of the bus. I had to laugh, as I'm guessing all three of us imagined everyone in the bus with margarine slathered over them in order to slip between the rows of people more easily!

Quote #3 was spoken by a bus assistant trying to cram more people in the bus. This was perhaps the most crowded bus I've been on so far; it definitely felt like we were defying the law of nature that says that no two objects of matter can occupy the same space at the same time! So I'm crouched against the side wall, squatting or half sitting on a bit of a ledge that's about one inch wide. The bus assistant says "Move on to the back of the bus, it's real empty!" I had to chuckle out loud at the absurdity of the statement - plus he sounded like he really believed it! The two women sitting near me began to laugh too...just one little chuckle opened the space to interact with them on a human level. The one woman took my arm and to help me keep steady for the rest of the ride, as I didn't really have anything to grasp on to in the position I was in. I was grateful to her, and to the bus assistant for insisting that the bus was empty, allowing us to laugh a little bit during the long ride home.

Quote #2 was uttered by a certain Beth Peachey...and before you think I've gotten interested in mechanics, I was attempting to ask Antony if he could teach me to disactivate the alarm on the car, but ended up asking about how to completely take it apart!

View from the bus that I see every day, going to and from work.


David Reese said...

hurray for a continued thread of transportation related discourse.

I was instantly sure of the context of the margarine quote, havnig experienced nicaragua's buses.

Folks on the bus will generally help you out, too- a bunch of folks on Rachael's bus helped her thwart a boot thief a couple weeks ago. I suppose this is partially true in Chicago, too... generally folks around will help you figure out where you're trying to go, and only some of them will be drunk.

Carrie said...

This is unrelated to buses or other kinds of transportation, but I wanted to share that I had a dream last night that Rachael and Beth and David were all back in Oberlin, and so a bunch of people decided to go to IHOP. So we all went to IHOP, but when we got there, they were really full, and only had one small table for all of us. So we all tried to squish together around the table, which kept on getting smaller, but more people kept on coming, and somehow we managed to fit everyone at the table, with always room for one more. Perhaps we had slathered ourselves up with margarine. But not syrup, that would have made us sticky. Anyway, I was reminded of the Friday lunches at Wilder (and also, apparently, buses in Guatemala/Nicaragua!) and it made me really happy when I woke up this morning. I miss you all!

Dan said...

I do indeed have a hard time imagining a context in which "¡Mañana eche margarina por favor!" Means "Let's put margarine on ourselves tomorrow!"... were they talking pieces of bread? It literally means "Put margarine on tomorrow", but not "on ourselves"...

Beth said...

It's all in the context...

They're on the bus...not having much luck squeezing between two rows of people, no bread in sight...

you decide:)