Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Oaxaca's Party Bus

Well, there I was, checking one of my favorite blogs, sad because it hasn't been updated for many months, and I thought, shouldn't I do right by my own blog?

We've just arrived back to Oaxaca after three months al norte. It all comes back in a rush, how the mountains are higher here than those in California, how the cars are louder and smellier here than the smog-controlled ones in the U.S., how life is easier in Oaxaca, even with children at two different schools and work to attend to.

Part of what makes everything fundamentally different this time around is that my best friend, Meggie, has joined us for the next few months. Suddenly I see it all through her eyes, the graffiti and the market bags, the produce and the houses painted brightly.

The daily stuff is always what thrills me. Like yesterday, when Geni and I boarded the Primer Etapa bus to get home. This is my bus--I'm all about this route, with its buses that seem a little more rattling and that are often packed.

And we got on the best of the mutts of the buses, the one with "Amor Prohibido" painted in broad cursive letters across its entire tinted window. Forbidden Love means only one thing: we lucked on to the party bus.

This driver is loco, mostly in a good way. He keeps the tunes cranked loud and hits the topes hard enough to make the velvet tassles on his bus window curtains swing and tangle. He often keeps his route going long after the other drivers have pulled in for one last tlayuda and mezcal before calling it a night.

And nighttime is the right time on the party bus. At night, the lights blink in time to the reggaeton. During the day, however the scene is a bit like the after-party of the after-party, rough, a little tired, and too bright to fully open your eyes and look around.

We were surprised when, after a block into our journey on our favorite bus, smoke billowed from underneath the doors. We sat around waiting for our cue from the driver/deejay, who kept sending his henchman out the door to signal someone or something.

Soon enough another bus pulled up, already jammed with people, and our driver waved us off, telling us to board. I watched more and more people cram on and I realized that this was one right to party I wasn't going to fight for.

Luckily the women in front of me agreed and went back to the driver to demand their 5 pesos 50 centavos back so they could board a bus with room the breathe. I followed suit. The driver said to me, not angrily, "It's not my fault."

"I know," I reassured him. The other women were bitter. They were sure it was his fault. They thought he just wanted to keep their monedas, or that he was going to take a lunch break on his smokey bus. I was undecided, but I wasn't going to tell him that. I have to stay in the good graces for next time when I'm out later than I should be and in find myself in need of the services of Mr. Party Bus.