Monday, March 12, 2007

Lessons and Smiles

Our ride to San Luis Potosi was a rough one. After we bought our tickets on the Oriente line, Rand remembered reading NOT to take Oriente. We found out why soon enough. Although we bought "primo" tickets (the best) the bus was old and had seen a lot of wear and tear. We thought, as long as we get to our destination, it's all good. Well, we got about 45 minutes towards S. L. Potosi when the bus stopped, did a U-turn on a busy, blind curve and started going back towards the bus station. We were confused and a tad frustrated knowing that this would make for a longer journey. It all made sense when we pulled back into the station and over to the gas pump. Um, yeah, probably would have been best to check the gas gauge BEFORE heading off on a 5 1/2 hour drive, but we all make mistakes and we could tell that the drive felt bad about making this one. Four plus hours into the drive, we stopped at a gas station, but not for gas this time. We got a bathroom break and procured some snacks. An older driver climbed out of the internal trap door below and our driver climbed inside. The older drive took the helm. He drove so, SO slowly you would have thought it was his first time on the road....ever. We laughed and named him "Mexi-Pappy".

We stayed at the Principal Hotel run by a charming bloke named "Carlito" who took a shine to me calling me "Juanita" explaining it was pretty close to what Jamie would be in Spanish. He was great, but the room had no fan (note to self Jamie, always check for a fan) and was right off the main stairway. It was stuffy, noisy for most of the night and because of its proximity to the stairs, not very private. People literally could see straight into the room when going up or down.

We looked forward to our trip to San Miguel having checked out the best looking bus lines and times for the next day's departures. We anticipated a plush bus, like the ones we'd picked out the day before, but instead an old clunker pulled up. Turns out there wasn't a "primo" bus to San Miguel that day. DANG! We sure attracted a lot of attention seemingly being the only gringos in this large city and our bus was full of rough looking guys who obviously found our "What, no primo bus??" plight quite funny. We got onboard, all eyes on us - us returning their looks with huge smiles which I think are difficult not to reciprocate - and claimed the back of the bus for ourselves. A smile means the same thing in almost every culture and has, and I think will continue to be a powerful secret weapon in our arsenal as we feel our way through unfamiliarity.

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