By Joyce Holdread
“Let’s go ‘high class’ for the rest of the journey,” David entreated, so we headed for the bus station and boarded a modern Mercedes Benz autobus. “When we get to San Miguel, we can look up that engineer guy working on the water project in a nearby village. He might be able to connect us with educational programs in the area.”
“Hey, they’re going to show ‘A Beautiful Mind’ on the mini-screens that drop down from the roof. I’ve wanted to see that movie for months.”
“You go ahead,” said David, “I’m going to get my Jackson Browne fix and take a little nap.” He positioned his headphones and stretched his long legs under the seat in front.
“I’ll wake you up when they come around with lunches. Which fruit juice do you want? Before we get on the road, I’m going to the bathroom in the back. Good thing we’re seated in the front; it’s the nasal assault of a permanent feedlot back there.”
We pulled into San Miguel around 7 p.m. It seemed to be the destination of all — passengers squeezed through the narrow exit door like Mexican jumping beans popping out single file. A sizable crowd gathered outside the underbelly of the bus, waiting for the driver to open the baggage compartment. Soon, behind us to the right, a noisy fight broke out — swearing, swinging, punching. While we all focused on this sudden ruckus, a simultaneous surge of the crowd pressed forward in a crazed frenzy to retrieve the luggage.
“I’ll get our packs,” David yelled as he caught hold of the back straps and jerked them from the pile. We turned away to strap them on. “Hey, I felt somebody’s hand in my pocket.”
David spun around in time to see the bolsista scurrying over to a waiting taxi, the driver ready at the wheel to speed away. Dropping his pack, David bounded to the taxi, extended his hand through the open side window, and sternly demanded, “¡Mi wallet … o!” Believing any anglo word could be Hispanicized by a final “o,” he nevertheless got his point across. The would-be pickpocket, with startled chagrin, placed the intact wallet in David’s open palm. The taxi took off in a squeal of dust. Nothing was missing. Ah, if the waitress in Pancho’s Diner could see us now.