“Cierre!” I hear the man yell and I feel a big push from the people behind me as the doors slam shut. Somehow we have all made it inside before the driver has lost his patience and left passengers stranded on the sidewalk, as I have seen happen many times before. All of a sudden, in mere seconds, I am conscious that we are moving at super-sonic speed and I seem to be in perfect position to make this my last ride – smashed up against the front windshield. “Uno veinte” I say to the driver. He grumbles something and I am forced to repeat myself. I am convinced not a single driver has ever understood me on the first try, but part of me also thinks it’s on purpose.
I move forward, gripping the handrail so tight that my knuckles turn white and my fingers go numb. At times I am forced to grasp the handrail with both hands and there are many moments when we go so fast around a bend that I genuinely feel as if we might flip over. If I thought the buses moved fast in Brazil I was kidding myself. I stare in amazement at the people around me who seem not to budge an inch though they hold onto nothing. As locals they are masters of this balancing skill. We reach the next stop and I watch as an old man about to board the bus hoists his frail wife in catapult-style up the steps. The awful beeping noise of the air assist and sixty seconds you curse for slowing your journey down on a New York City bus doesn’t exist here, but somehow the old people just deal. I grow frustrated and nervous when I notice none of the seated young boys offer to get up for the elderly couple.
Minutes later I take my iPod earphones out and realize reggaetone is blaring from the radio. Read the rest of this entry »