June 28, 2009
$350 Pesos bought me a one way ticket from Chihuahua to El Paso. We had to take our luggage off the bus and stand in a very long, slow moving line at the boarder, but that was the only glitch in this part of my journey.
The woman who sat beside me was on her way back home to Montana. She would spend over twenty-four hours on buses. She is a Mexican living in the United States and was visiting family in Monterey. She is afraid to fly. She spoke a little English, but most importantly, she understood my Spanish.
I travelled Americanos, which is the name of the Mexican bus line that has a license to travel into the United States. Many people think when travelling into Mexico by bus they need to take the Greyhound to Juarez and transfer to a Mexican bus line in Juarez. This is not the case.
When I arrived at the Americanos bus depot in El Paso I telephoned a cab company and explained that I was passing through El Paso, needed to be on the plane at 6 a.m. the next morning and needed a ride to a hotel near the airport, and possibly a ride to the airport at around 4 a.m.
The cab company's service was impeccable. For $21 American I was driven to an ATM machine where I could get American money, driven to a 7-11 where I didn't like any of the sandwiches, so off we went to a McDonald's drive through.
The hotel my cabbie dropped me off at was something called a Microtel, inexpensive, $50 American, with some sort of bedding system that made for a very comfortable night's sleep. Well, actually half nights sleep since I only stayed for about 5 or 6 hours.
June 29, 2009
I flew from El Paso to Houston and had twenty minutes to fly (using wings I quickly grew on my feet) across from the domestic terminal to the international terminal, leaving behind the Guadalajara travellers who were scurrying for the same flight. Foolish women thought they'd just follow me. I'm no leader. However, the flight waited their arrival.
On the plane I met a very large family from Bogota Columbia, all very well educated, and I imagine wealthy. I've been considering a trip to Columbia because it is safe right now, but tourists are not travelling yet, which means it's an inexpensive place to visit.
The man from Bogota said the reason Columbia is safe at the moment is because the right wing government has a firm hold on the military, and the military is able to keep the left wing militants under raps. However, unlike North America, Latin American people who lean to the right do not negotiate with people who have left wing philosophies and vice versa. It is, he said, only a matter of time before the left wing gathers strength, comes out of the jungle, and fights once more.
I got the feeling that although he and his family are very wealthy, their values lean toward the left of center, a good liberal education will do that.
I said goodbye to the Colombian family as they went off to rent two vans to drive to the very large house they rented for their Vancouver visit.
Always the worst part of my journey to Nanaimo was the ferry ride. Fortunately the bus that travels from the Vancouver airport to Nanaimo was still running. The bus began last year and isn't profitable.
I realized that by the time I arrived in Nanaimo it would be too late to get my rental car. And so, while on the ferry, I telephoned my son, Richard, hoping he would be able to pick me up at the corner where the bus will drop me off. No one was home, I left a voice mail message.
On the ferry a blond haired woman with a rather strange personality wanted to tell me her life story, according to her, our meeting was meant to happen. During the last year or so, her son almost died of colitis, and she should be dead from the cancer, which is miraculously in remission. She's an artist who also teaches art. Everyone has a story.
The bus dropped me off, with my ton of luggage, on a street corner where there was a pay phone.
I stood at the pay phone while a young Mexican woman talked and talked to someone on the other end of the telephone. I waited for what felt like an eternity. Then I said, in Spanish, please I need to use the phone. ("Necesito usar el telefono por favor") "Why?" she asked in English.
"Because I'm standing on the street corner with a ton of luggage and need to have someone pick me up. " I say
She ignores me.
"How long are you going to be on the phone?" I ask.
"Fifteen minutes," she says.
I waited twenty minutes.
"You need to get off the phone. You said fifteen minutes, it's been twenty. I'd go somewhere else if I could, but I've got too much luggage. Pretty soon I'm going to need to go to the bathroom, and then I'll be real testy."
"I'm talking to my family in Mexico, and I can't call them from my apartment because I don't have any money."
"I'm sorry. I feel really bad about this, but I really need to use the phone."
"O-kay. I'll say goodbye."
She says her goodbyes to her family. We say our goodbyes to each other as I try once more to reach my son. My grandson, Jeremy, answers the phone and tells me his dad is at a wedding.
The people I'm renting an apartment from have offered to pick me up if necessary. It seems that it is necessary.
I made a mistake. Instead of dialing their number I called my father. His apartment is a block from where I am. He tells me that Richard, is picking him up at 7 p.m.
My dad has Huntington's Disease which means his thoughts can be jumbled, he can lose his temper for no reason, and he has trouble walking.
From the conversation with my father I though Richard had received my voice mail message and was picking my father up, and then me. According to my dad, Richard was coming at seven o'clock.
I made the mistake of telling my dad where I was. I tell him I'll call him later. He doesn't understand that part of what I've said. He tells me he'll come to me since I'm not able to walk to his apartment with all my luggage.
I watched my father hobble up the street. "One more thing for me to deal with" I think. When he meets up with me, he thinks he can lift the luggage. He can't.
"Dad, you're going to hurt yourself," I say with alarm. He, as usual, is offended. Throughout my life I've continually offended my father with his malfunctioning brain.
My father's friend joined us on the street corner. This particular friend has had a recent run in with the police. Apparently, the caretaker of the building where my father and he lives, according to my father's friend, doesn't respect people. Because the caretaker doesn't respect people my father's friend got into the fist fight, which resulted in an assault charge.
"So, you beat on people you think don't respect you. Seems to me that's disrespectful." I think, but I don't say anything. My father's friends are like my father, and I've learned not to expect them to make sense.
My father's friend has cancer. It was in remission, but it has returned. He's recently had surgery. He lifts his T-shirt to show me the scar along with his hairy and protruding belly.
My father and his friend talk. I think we are waiting for Richard. But, I eventually figure out that Richard simply ran into my father while they were both downtown and Richard told my dad he'd be by later.
Now that I've got the whole story, and it's way past seven o'clock I really want to telephone the people who I'm renting from, or a cab.
My aunt drives by, slows her van, and then drives off. My father figures she can't help out because her van is full of people.
My father announces that he has to go to the bathroom. But he stands with me, likely thinking I need his help, or something, I don't know.
"Come on dad, we'll go back to your apartment,: I said.
And I somehow manage to drag my luggage the two blocks to his apartment. But, in front of my father's apartment building, I reach the end of my rope. It's coming up eight pacific daylight time. I started my journey yesterday at twelve noon mountain time, experienced three time changes, lugged a ton of luggage around seven different times, in three different countries, and contended with a lot of different people, including my loonie father. I can't go any farther.
"Dad, I'm not taking my luggage up to your apartment. Why don't you go to the bathroom, come back downstairs and watch my luggage while I use your phone to make a call.
While I wait I just know he's going to forget I'm here and I'm going to be stuck because although I could drag the luggage down the hill, I can't possibly pull it back up the hill to where the pay phone is.
Fortunately I've misjudged my father and he returns. "Boy, am I ever glad to see you," I said. I manage to explain to my father that although he has left the door to his apartment unlocked he lives in a secure building and needs to use his key to let me into the building. Fortunately he has his key and is able to let me in the building. I go up to his apartment, and call the people who I'm renting from. Go back downstairs and outside to my luggage and father. They come and pick me up and I say goodbye to me father, letting him know I'll call tomorrow, and I'll come visit, if he answers his phone.
The next day I get my rental car. I meet up with my son and grandchildren. I call my father, he doesn't answer his phone. I try ringing his doorbell. He doesn't answer his door. Eventually, after a few days, I catch up with him.