My adventures and mis-adventures as I travel here and there

Riding Greyhound- Day 3

Last night I finally got so sick feeling and tired that I laid all our luggage down in the bus station and sprawled out across it. And I actually fell asleep. Around 1am we finally reboarded our bus. I was so thankful to be one of the few people on the bus without a seatmate. Unfortunately, my sister had someone sitting next to her, which made me feel really guilty. Still, I fell fast asleep for about four and half hours until a stop woke me. The woman sitting next to my sister moved to another seat, so she got to sleep some too, and I slept again for three hours. I’m currently in Boise, Idaho. When we were driving in, I looked around and saw how “northwest-ish” it looked and this powerful feeling of home swept over me. I felt happier than I ever believed I would to be close to Walla Walla again. Our bus is still about an hour and a half late, but we’re close now, so it almost doesn’t matter. Everyone looks happy and refreshed in this part of the country. I feel happy and refreshed. I met a woman who got on the bus in West Virginia, has been on for three days, and has to get back on Saturday.

There is seriously no limit to what might happen on Greyhound. A non-US citizen from, well, some other country, who speaks only Spanish was called off the bus along with a translator this morning. After a few minutes the bus driver came down the aisle, “Ok, which one of you jackasses stole this here man’s wallet? He’s not a citizen and all his papers are in there!” It came to light very quickly that the “jackass” had thrown the wallet down the toilet. A flashlight was found and the offending article was fished out and deposited in a plastic bag, after which items that had fallen out of the wallet were also fished out. Needless to say, much laughter and expressions of disbelief surrounded the event. It added to our hour and a half delay.

September 13, 2007 Posted by | United States | , , , | Leave a comment

Riding Greyhound- Day 2

Using the bathroom in the bus while the vehicle is in motion is not unlike trying to ride a mechanical bull. I hope my fellow passengers couldn’t hear my exclamations and proclamations as I struggled to maneuver in there. The second day of bus riding and fantasies of burritos are growing very strong. Every town we stop in hates vegetarians, as I haven’t been able to find a burrito without chicken, bacon, or beef. I’ve started going for my sister’s arm because it now looks like a burrito to me. If I don’t get a burrito at the next stop, I may loose my mind. After buying Wyoming postcards, I realize I already bought some on the way down. Probably the exact same ones. In Salt Lake City at 11:30 PM they tell us there will be a 1-2 hour delay.

First-timer: “Is the bus always like this?”
Us: “YES!”

My sister has decided she might as well wash her bangs in the sink. Meanwhile, a woman who’s been waiting here for six hours creates havoc among other innocently waiting passengers. The security guard hits on all the women.

Guard: Are these your carry-on bags?
Sis: Yeah.
Guard: You’re really hot!!
Sis: What…What?!
Guard (laughing hysterically): BET THAT WOKE YOU UP, DIDN’T IT!
Female passenger: What, we’re delayed two hours? Tell me you’re joking!
Guard: Yep, that’s right. Gives you plenty o’ time to spend with me! (wink, wink)

The information counter shuts down for the night. Some smokers get locked outside the station- hehe- and my sis chats up some short dark-haired dude. I just realized that I’m developing a fever… and a sore throat. Perfect.

September 13, 2007 Posted by | United States | , , , , | Leave a comment

Riding Greyhound- Day 1

I like learning about people by listening to their conversations without the inconvenience of having to take part in them. No, that’s not a fancy way to say I like to eavesdrop. I merely appreciate the auditory diversions that are offered to me. It’s fun to try imagining a visual representation of the person based on their voice and story before actually seeing their face. Drug dealers, ex-cons, and fugitives of the law- those are your greyhound seatmates. The man sitting beside my sister made a not-so-discreet drug deal over the phone. He’d just gotten out of prison in Mississippi… for possessing a trunk-full of drugs, of course. The man in front of her had fled the state for 8 years to avoid several warrants on his name. Lovely.

September 12, 2007 Posted by | United States | , , , , | Leave a comment

Texas or Bust- Day 3

3PM central time in Dallas, TX. My bus was two hours late getting in, causing me to miss my connection. The next bus leaves at 7:15PM. Here I sit for another four hours with a measly meal voucher as a consolation prize. I won’t get to Marshall until at least 10PM, at which time my poor parents will have to come pick me up. I’m beginning to lose my faith in Greyhound. The low price of the tickets represents what we evidently don’t pay for. That is, timeliness, customer courtesy, and creature comfort. The lack of comfort I expected. The other missing components are a little more disappointing. Horror stories from fellow travelers don’t help at all. Greyhound employees making people cry, security guards breaking their promises. The man in line ahead of me was missing the viewing at the funeral of his fifteen-day-old daughter. By the time he gets there, the funeral home will be closed. One employee even freely admitted that the bus I arrived on is late every day. Why is this problem allowed to continue? Public transport in Europe is so much more reliable and efficient. Buses and trains are almost always on time. I wish I could just fly back next month instead of risking another fiendish bus trip, but I love knowing that I paid my way here for once. Is it worth it? I ask myself.

The man with the big head just tried talking to me. He’s probably harmless and I’m probably rude for being cool towards him, but please, don’t look me up and down like that.

We travelers have to help each other out, and somehow the opportunity to help out a fellow human being in need, especially when you can completely empathize with their plight, makes the ordeal 3% closer to being worth it. Amarillo, Texas had the most ghetto bus station I’d seen after traveling halfway across the United States. I held that annoying faucet down for a young girl so she could clean out her baby’s bottle in the filthy bathroom; I gave a middle-aged woman the rest of my tampons. Here in Dallas, stuck together until 7:15PM, I loaned a blond guy my phone for a couple minutes. He’s spent the summer working at Yellowstone and now he’s trying to get back home to Mississippi. I loaned my purple pen to a frustrated man on the pay phone. And when my bags fell over, oh about a million times, perfect strangers helped me pick them up.

But how do you know when someone really needs help and when they’re just preying on your sympathies? A man approaches with a sad story about how he and his girlfriend are stuck here until 8PM. They’ve already gotten a sandwich with their meal vouchers from Greyhound but now they’re starving again. Could I possibly help them get a meal? He’s so sorry to approach me like this. As I’m searching for my voucher, security hauls him out the door. Hmmm.

Everywhere there is an outlet there will also be a traveler huddled there charging their electronics. I am one such huddled by a set of pay phones. It’s an interesting place to be. I’ve heard a lot of frustrated calls to loved ones letting them know they’ll be a “little late”. I heard a very lengthy call during which a woman talked of God’s will concerning some kind of move and about taking a job and what it said in some “letter”. Just now a beautiful young woman cried on the phone telling her friend about a boyfriend who dumped her as he also dumped her at the bus station. “He said, ‘Don’t ever contact me again and… go with God.’ Do you know how much that hurts? He broke my heart.”

Leaving Dallas (finally!) a guy named Whitney* in probably his early twenties sat down beside me. His ethnicity was difficult to determine, but to me he looked to be an African/Asian mix. He had an Asian’s eyes, but darker skin and a black man’s hair. He wore slouchy pants, a black and white shirt with a random pattern consisting of paisley, spades, and skulls and crossbones, and his long black hair was in ten plaited braids. He wore a brand new cap with playing cards embroidered onto it (the tag was still on).

He asked my name and where I was from. His next question: “So you don’t smoke weed stuff do you?”

“No…not at all.”

“So what do you think of people who do?” he asked. I was a little unsure of my answer, but I did end up telling him I thought smoking weed was stupid. Thankfully he laughed. I asked him why he did it and his answer was typical: to relax. He’s been hooked on the drug since he was nine and he needs it to sleep and to have an appetite.

Anyway, after the weed conversation, I found out that this guy was moving to Longview, TX because there were some people there who want to help him get his life straightened out. He plans to get a job at a plant (“whatever that is,” he said) and get his GED. I was so excited for him! He’s lived in Dallas for 8 years, “stuck in the ‘hood”, and he’s finally getting out. Whitney felt a little scared as we drove through miles and miles of what seemed like nothing to him. Every little town we stopped in he said, “Oh, this isn’t Longview, is it?” He’s off the bus now and beginning his new life. He’s looking forward to seeing trees and crickets. I can’t help but be a little afraid for him, knowing that without a strong will to make a change, he can just continue the life he’s always lived, only in a different place. I very much hope, however, that Whitney found his turning point today.

I finally reached Marshall, TX at midnight. My parents drove up at exactly the same time J

*named changed for protection

August 3, 2007 Posted by | United States | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Texas or Bust- Day 2

I’m sick of sitting on the bus! I hate it because my long legs spend all their time curled up into little pretzels, I desperately want to brush my teeth but can’t, and all this time to think is making me depressed. Isn’t it seriously sad when a person can’t have too much time alone to think without feeling despondent? What’s worse is that I’m worrying about the same exact things I worried about half a year ago, which was the last time I allowed myself this much time to ruminate. I just talked to a friend on the phone who could relate to my experience and I’m wondering: How many people feel this way? Are we all just trying to stay busy to still our anxious little minds? I’ve started to pray for peace because, seriously, I’m tired of not having it.

On a more jovial note, riding Greyhound is kind of an adventure. Not only do you see lots of countryside that you may or may not have ever wanted to see, all kinds of things happen to all kinds of people. Our last bus bonded by making fun of Greyhound and complaining about the perpetual delay in the schedule. On a very crowded transfer, I saw the heat rising as two bus passengers exchanged angry words and threats over who got to pick up their bags first, of all things! I’m currently a little creeped out by the guy in the seat in front of me. He keeps turning around and looking at me like I’m vigorously kicking his seat or something. I’m just sitting here. Very quietly. I’m resisting the urge to yell “What’s your problem?!” the next time he looks at me. That’s probably what Ashelle would do.

That reminds me of last time I road Greyhound. During the night the man behind me kept pushing on my seat. Any time I tried to adjust it, he’d push with all his might so it would not only fail to recline further, but would be more upright than before. I was so angry! Turns out he felt crowded because the woman behind him was particularly obese and wouldn’t let him recline his seat either. He tried to be all amiable about it the next morning, but I had a bad crick in my neck and I couldn’t help but wonder why he hadn’t just said something instead of rudely kicking me all night.

There’s also now a man across the aisle from me with a HUGE head. I think he has that disease that makes you have a really big head. I can’t remember what it’s called. I’ve been polite enough not to stare at his head, but he keeps staring at me. He even cranes his neck to look at my feet and stuff. I keep covering them with my blanket, but I want to scream every time he looks over here. I don’t want married men with big heads staring at me.

Twenty hours from now I should finally be where I want to go.

August 2, 2007 Posted by | United States | , , , | Leave a comment

Texas or Bust- Day 1

I’m on the bus to Texas, from where I will leave for the Philippines on August 15.

I just have to say that Greyhound transports some of the most interesting passengers. Interesting here is not supposed to conjure up an image of persons you’d delight to converse with for hours, mesmerized by their wit and class. No, rather, it is meant to be in connotation with people who talk about their drug addictions and arrests with complete strangers while they wait to board. People who are running away from death threats of angry relatives. People who used to be a different gender (oh, wait, that was last time)…

Unfortunately, my laptop battery is going dead already, but oh man do I love my computer! During a boring layover, I happily checked my e-mail.

August 1, 2007 Posted by | United States | , , , , | Leave a comment


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