I already posted this in brief on Facebook, but my parents said I had to post the story on my blog for the Facebook challenged.
Last week I was making my way back to San Pedro from Asuncion. I had just gotten back from vacation in Chile and Argentina so the 107 F weather on the sad old bus I was on was not doing wonders on me. Let me start off with saying that San Pedro is where old buses come to die. I have been on the most ugly, sad, broken down buses here. I’ve had the SAME BUS (same Jesus stickers) break down on different occasions in the middle of nowhere. If I am a customer and notice, you just KNOW that the bus company is aware that there is a problem with that bus but chooses to ignore the problem. Sorry, I DIGRESS.
Anyways, I’m on a sad, old, non-AC bus and we are making our way out of Asuncion from the bus terminal, unarguably the most miserable part of the 5 hour trip. It takes the bus about 2 hours to get out of the city because people get on at different points around the city. So when it’s hot, and no airflow from open windows it’s pretty miserable. My coping technique is to pop in my ear-buds and let the heat and moving bus rock me into a nap mode.
While the bus goes around picking everyone up, a lot of street vendors will also hop on and try to sell whatever they have for the day. In between my dozing in and out of consciousness, it’s not uncommon for a cell phone vendor to shove a bunch of fancy looking phones in my face until he realizes I’m not interested, or to hear other vendors shout out repeatedly what they are selling like: “manzanas, manzanas, manzanas, manzanas, peras, manzanas, lindas manzanas cinco mil.“
I’ve seen everything from pears, mburucuyá (passionfruit), apples and peeled oranges to TV antennas, bootleg movies, soda, socks, cooking oil and manicure kits for sale on these buses. And I try my best to ignore the vendors – especially ones selling the bootleg movies and cell phones. If you show any interest at all you get hounded! It’s a good opportunity to practice “bitchface,” or what I like to refer to as “bored, pretentious, uninterested cat-face.”
I was doing a good job at napping and acting uninterested until I heard a guy advertising: “anatómicos. medias. anatómicos. cocaína y marihuana barata. medias.” Yes, all you English speakers, that means: “underwear. socks. underwear. cheap cocaine and marijuana. socks.”
I still can’t believe that he was selling socks, underwear, weed and COCAINE at 3 PM in the afternoon. And that combination… No one on our bus took him up on the drugs or the underwear, and I’m still halfway convinced I misheard (no one else was phased by it!). Cocaine and underwear sound just as different in Spanish as they do in English though!
Maybe socks and underwear are code words for weed and coke like “leche” (milk) is a code word for beer on buses? I’ll have to ask around in appropriate circles.