As I got on the bus, I scanned the rows for an empty set of two so my longer than average legs do not acquire cramps and so I have a place to put my backpack. A row right in front of the bus’s back doors is open and I claimed my rightful throne. I dig in my pockets to find 25 cents (two dimes and five pennies) and looked around for the collection man. Although he is no where to be seen, a girl of about six or seven caught my attention who is sitting directly in front of me and it appeared that she has a staring problem. This is nothing new.
We made our way down Diez de Agosto* and still no collection man. More people get on the bus and rows fill up. I realized it would be polite of me to move to the inside seat next to the window and hold my backpack on my lap if an oncoming rider wished to sit next to me. We reached Salano**, and an equal number of people get off that get on. One of the newcomers also happened to be the collection man.
The collection men are usually of two kinds***. The first are young guys (early twenties) who simply need a job as they figure things out. I assume this is not their final destination in a career choice. The second are slightly older guys (thirties or forties) who appear to have some sort of physical ailment, slacked off earlier in life, and/or just do not seem to be completely content with life. I believe this one was of the second kind. I gave him my 25 cents and glanced past the girl with the staring problem.
As I continued on the fifteen minute journey on the big blue bus, I realized that I did not get any takers on row buddies. Obviously, girls felt safer sitting next to other girls (it is an urban area) and rows up front usually get filled quicker, but I realized that it may be weird sitting next to a foreigner. Imagine that, I am a foreigner. I am the guy that you kind of point at and wonder where they’re from. Well perhaps my nationality is not the biggest secret (although deep down I hope people are not sure if I’m from
After a bit more traversing the town, the bus turned onto the road of which my internship is located. Once again I saw the small girl in front of me suffering from her awful staring ailment so I kept my gaze straight ahead. I wonder what type of thoughts must be running through her head. Perhaps she was analyzing my weird facial features or lack of pigment in my skin or something else. Suddenly, I changed my gaze. I did not look down at the girl; I simply looked in another direction. This seemed to startle the girl out of her staring disease. For those few moments where I kept my gaze though, I was some mystical creature that dropped from space. A simple turning of the head brought me back to more human characteristics but it felt good being looked at as another species.
*Diez de Agosto – The road on which I live as well as a major road running West/East along the South side of Cuenca.
**Salano – A major road that runs North/South and ends at the
*** Two Kinds – And obviously there are exceptions.