The Bluefields Trilogy Part 1: Waiting for a bus

Sitting writing postcards, skinny, drinking black coffee because it’s less than a dollar, and I overhear a girl ordering breakfast
FRIED EGG? EGG. FRIED. YOU KNOW?
That’s some good Spanish there.
When am I going to get at the writing?
I guess it’ll just have to wait.
I have nothing to say. It’s a mixture of disinterest and writer’s block.
I should really do something. We have three days now until the ferry leaves for San Carlos. We have already climbed the volcano, achieved everything that we wanted to here. There is nowhere else we want to go. Three days…
I hate this feeling of wasting time. That despair-hopelessness that the days are burning by too quickly, the world is rushing away, and you’re not doing anything about it.
We can’t even watch the football. The power has gone out, again.
I suppose I could sort through my photos, or talk to Boxhe – DEAR GOD, I MUST THINK OF SOMETHING TO WRITE!
Staring at the typer. Nothing. This trip was supposed to provide INSPIRATION, all the jungles, beaches, mountains, danger. It’s not coming.
A nothing day.
Another day.
Two days…
I went for a walk in the morning. On the way back I stopped in a restaurant to watch the football. I ordered a banana milkshake. Some Argentinian kids walked in, four of them. One of the girls was waving an Argentinian flag.
She turned to me
Where are you from?
I thought about it for a moment. I couldn’t be bothered.
England.
Hmmm
I remembered hearing that Argentina harbours this weird, ultra-nationalistic hatred toward England, going back to the Falklands, and that there are photographs of Maradona’s Hand of God from every angle in the presidential oval office, or whatever, or something.
NO, WAIT, WALES!
But they weren’t listening. They were busy being young and in love, with bad haircuts.
The following morning I walked into the room and looked at Boxhead spread out on the bed like a cheap hooker
How can you just lie there all day doing nothing?, I asked, I don’t understand how you can do it.
I’m dreading this journey tomorrow. The jungle, it’s going to kill me. Heat. Insects. Everything that I hate. I’m just enjoying myself now, so why don’t you shut the fu –
The journey would take us all the way down the Rio San Juan to the Caribbean, up the coast to Bluefields, ending in the Corn Islands. I didn’t know how many days it would take. Transport was unpredictable and we might have to come back on ourselves. An overnight ferry was the first stage of our journey.
I just don’t know how you do it, I said, carrying the rocking chair through to the balcony
LOOK, YOU’VE JUST BEEN SAT THERE ALL DAY, ON SKYPE, NOW OUT THERE ON YOUR FUCKING THRONE
But doesn’t your back hurt?
NO
I woke feeling poorly again. We were supposed to take the overnight ferry four days earlier, but I wasn’t feeling well, so we decided to wait until the Monday ferry. The ferry only goes twice a week. In the days intervening I had been fine.
This god damn island doesn’t want me to leave, I said to Boxhead from the bathroom
We can wait for the ferry on Thursday if you like?
No, I’m all right… WE’RE LEAVING TODAY!
I was sick of the food, sick of time wasting, sick of waiting. Life had become less about living and all about waiting. I guess ultimately we are always waiting, waiting for a bus, for the doctor, a tv show, waiting to live, waiting and waiting, right up until the very end.
Do you need some more toilet paper?
No, thanks.

 

I asked the lady behind reception what time the buses passed by on their way to Altagracia. We had to be at the port for 5pm. It would only take twenty minutes to get to Altagracia and another ten in a taxi after that to the port. She said there was a bus at 1.30, and another at 2.30. We headed up to the road with our bags at 2.20.
We waited there, on the shoulder. 2.30 came and went and then it was 3pm. The flies had started to come up, not flies, but midge things. They rose straight up into the air at once. They must have nested in the plants that grew close to the beach. In the evenings it was worse. It was impossible to sit outside of the room because they would swarm around the hostel lights, 900,000 of them.
I wonder if she said 12.30, not 2.30…, I wondered aloud. I’m telling you, this island doesn’t want me to leave.
A black pick-up stopped in front of us. He didn’t look like a taxi driver, just a local trying to make some money on the side.
Where are you going?
Altagracia
El puerto?
No, later. Altagracia for now.
$5 per person
Pffffffttt, FIVE DOLLARS! HAHAHAHA! Mister, the bus is 50 cents! We’ll wait thanks.
He drove off. There were four horses across the road. I watched them. One of them was very young. They stood out of the sun under some trees but the sun still shone through in parts like stage lights. The baby stood for a while leaning against one of the adults. Then it separated from them and lay down in the grass. After a while, another taxi stopped. She asked us where we were going
Altagracia
The port?
No, the town
$20.
ARE YOU HAVING A LAUGH? IS SHE HAVING A LAUGH? HAHAHAHA
She wasn’t because she pulled out an official looking list of fares. It said it right there. $20.
Oh my God… We’ll wait for the bus thanks. It’ll be along any minute.
She left us there amongst the flies that hung in the air like grey flakes of snow suspended. Waiting. It certainly didn’t appear there was a bus. Nothing was happening. Another guy stopped. The same dialogue and price.
No, thanks! We’re waiting for the bus!
There isn’t a bus until 5
What do you mean? There is a bus at 2.30.
It was four o’clock. I was delusional. After he’d gone I thought I’d go and check this in the hostel. They repeated what he said.
I looked at Volcán Maderas in the distance to my left. It was cloudy and I couldn’t see the peak.
You told me there was a bus at 2.30 (they might have told me 12.30), and now you’re telling me there isn’t one until five, or something. I looked back at her. How much should a taxi be?
$20.
I was gutted. $20 to go 9km, not even half a buck on the bus. I’m fed up of throwing money away like this.
But if you wait by the road you might get a cheaper one
It was getting late and scenarios in which we’d be stuck on the island for another three days started going through my head. I thought we’d better take whatever came along next. He said $15.
Vamos
The car was already full and we had to wait while he dropped everybody off. Fifteen minutes later, he returned.
Glumly we sat in the back of our private minibus
We should have gone with the first guy
Yes
We were in Altagracia, finally. We went to the supermarket and the ATM then headed to the park ready for the ferry. A woman greeted us there. It was the same woman who had stopped alongside us on the road. She asked us if we wanted to go to the port and we said that we did. But first we had to wait for the bus from the other side of the island because there were still two seats in the car and there might be some more ferry passengers, maybe. There was money to be had! (maybe)
We stood by the car in front of the church, waiting.
It seems like such a long time ago we were here, I said, watching the park. We left here four days ago for the beach…
I turned to face the church. It’s that weird time thing where time seems to have passed by so quickly and at the same time dragged, as though you have lived through it twice, once in a dream… I suppose time is something we fill by packing in memories, and if you don’t do anything to make those memories than that time ceases to exist in our heads… But then I can recall every moment of every moment of the past we-
What the hell are you talking about?
I don’t know. I blew a big sigh. I don’t know where the week has gone. It’s a shame we haven’t seen more of the island. I would like to have seen Merida now that I think about it…
Something was whistling behind me. I looked around. It was her. She was sat in the car ready to go. The bus hadn’t come. I guess she got bored of waiting.
On our way out of town she spotted four backpackers stood outside of a shop and we braked next to them and they wanted to go the port too, and we couldn’t go until she’d made sure they were in her friend’s van, and they weren’t in any kind of hurry, so we sat there, muttering, cursing, cursing, and she kept shouting ‘One moment! One moment!’, it was 5.20pm, we waited.

 

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