Of buses

front of bus

Long, long ago, I posted about the preferred public transportation of North Africa here and here. I guess it’s time that I gave you a better picture of the public transportation available here in southern Spain.

Within the last month, I have had strangers approach me at the bus stop to ask about bus schedules or destinations. I began to wonder if, somewhere along the line, I have become an expert of the local bus system. Or perhaps I simply radiate confidence as I perch myself on a grimy bus stop seat and become so engrossed in a book that a driver has to honk to make me notice the looming bus. (Really, that has happened only once.)

I used to be the one asking the “When does the bus come?” questions as I waited, peering down the street for the bus that must have already gone.

Well, I have learned a lot in the last year and a half, considering I knew nothing when I arrived: 

  • Buses prefer to be on time but usually come late, on rare occasions come early, and once in a while, don’t come at all.
  • There are certain bus drivers who let you disembark using the front door despite the sign above their heads that say “Disembark at the back door only.”
  • Going through tourist towns always warrant long stops for confused adults double checking that they’re on the right bus and counting out exact change.
  • Women bus drivers are scarier than men drivers. I’m not a fan of women driver stereotypes, but don’t remind me of that when I’m furiously crunching peppermints as we careen through roundabouts without slowing down and whiz down narrow roads lined with terrified pedestrians.

There are days I arrive late for appointments because of a late bus. Once, I missed my bus by one minute, arriving just in time to watch it pull out of the station. Passengers with glazed eyes stared out the windows, already settling into the dry boredom of public transportation. (I had to wait an hour for the next bus.) 

But bus rides cannot always be described as boring. I witnessed a yelling match between a passenger and a driver that ended with the driver threatening to call the police and the passenger calling him a– well, never mind what he called him.

Sometimes the smells–be it perfume or B.O.–are overwhelming and I pretend to rest my face in my scarf but really am just trying to coax myself to breathe.

One time, a man boarded the bus, his head wrapped tightly in a scarf. We didn’t have to wait long to discover why. Scratch! Scratch! Scratch! The furious scratching made me thankful for all of the passengers without lice.

I often meet up with someone I know who is taking the same bus.  I’ve bounced babies, played peekaboo, and given a mini English lesson.

I have also met some interesting people, struck up conversations with women, and fielded those invasive “are you married?” questions from men I would rather not meet. Once, I even got a bag of dripping fish plopped on my lap. Read about that here.  

But overall, when nothing is required of me, I offer nothing and just admire the scenery bouncing by the window.  I have spend hours and hours staring at the sea of white plastic of greenhouses and then the sea of blue blue blue Mediterranean. One time, I even saw dolphins.

And really, who can complain about public transportation with a view like that?

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