WhatsApp Image 2019-03-24 at 9.41.51 PM

Eric Brown is a Practical English for Success (PES) volunteer serving in a pueblo in Atlántico, Colombia.

dogs barking
sweat beading
vallenato blaring
bus speeding

traffic inching
roads curving
motos zipping
drivers swerving

halt, go
stop, start
whiplashed neck
pounding heart

fingers tapping
WhatsApp dinging
vendors selling
musicians singing

purses clutched
boxes piled
clothes adjusted
hairdos styled

feet shuffling
packed aisle
friendly faces
flashing smiles

attendant charging
passengers paying
parents watching
children playing

mouths chatting
minds thinking
stop approaching
eyes unblinking

hands waving
yelling shouts
request granted
stepping out

relief settling
senses stunned
waving bye
chaos done


I have a love-hate relationship with the bus ride from the city to my pueblo. Sometimes it’s relaxing, and I get a quiet moment to snooze or get lost in my thoughts or maybe have a nice chat with a friend that happens to sit down in front of me. More often though, it’s a chaotic journey making my way back. The bus and scenery are full of interesting sights and sounds, from busking clowns and freestyle rappers to kids dancing in the aisles. I’ve learned to appreciate those moments and I’m sure if I have long boring commutes again someday I’ll look back fondly, thankful I got to experience the mayhem that has become my new normal.

More often, however, I am just not having it. Blaring music, overflowing aisles, lack of personal space, gawking strangers, aggressive vendors, and above all the stifling heat can make the trip nearly intolerable. I often start feeling claustrophobic, anxiety wells up, and I feel sick. I try to close my eyes and lean my head against the seat in front of me, and inevitably someone tries to chat me up when all I want to do is curl up in a ball or leap out the window. On those days, there is no greater relief, no greater flood of gratitude, than that moment I step off the bus and feel the stress and nausea subside as I breathe in the fresh air, knowing I finally made it home.

I’m thankful for my adventures and memories on the pueblo bus. But I’m even more thankful that I’m eventually able to get off!


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