Final Stretch, 1, 2 & 3. Bus Moments
I'm changing the header after two months, because we now seem to be in the home stretch of the pandemic. The number of vaccinated is growing, the number of contagion is going down, and so is the number of deaths. Let's keep our fingers crossed.
Again, life has interrupted. I had intended to write about Friday morning, and the interesting bus ride, but I had no time. That day, in the middle of my last class, the tractor my husband had hired to finish chopping the wood showed up, and I spent over an hour helping out that evening. Saturday morning was spent entirely working on the wood pile; later I did the shopping, tired, my arms aching. Today, my arms still hurt, but I have more time.
Friday morning, I walked into town. Normally, I would drive the seven kilometers or so, but my daughter started working this month, and she needs the car. Whether or not her job will last the summer is yet to be seen, but this month, at least, I'm stuck at home.
Halfway down the road, a car passed by, stopped, and backed up to my level. It was my brother-in-law. He offered me a ride, so I went the last half of the way with him. Once there, I did what I had to do rather quickly, and was at the bus stop over a half hour before the bus was supposed to come.
There were three buses already parked there, two large and one minibus. They were from two local bus companies covering the local routes within the township, but left later than the intercity bus that was yet to arrive. Some people had gathered, not many, and not young. Of all of them, I, at my fifty-two years, was the youngest one there. Everyone else was above retirement age. Most people of working age don't have the time to waste waiting for a bus that takes forever to arrive, and use their own car. Life today tells you to be in one place at a certain hour, and to go to another one fifteen minutes later. That can't be done by bus.
The bus itself came ten minutes earlier than usual. When I got on, I asked for my stop and paid for it. Just in case, I asked the driver if he stopped at a stop near my house or if he only stopped once in the village, on the main road. He shook his head and said that the stop was in the village. I shrugged my shoulders and went to a seat. It simply meant a ten minute walk home.
The last person got on, we stayed around about a minute, and then the driver closed the door and we were off. Almost from the beginning, he was holding a conversation with the two older ladies who were sitting behind him and behind the door well, one of whom had just gotten on. It seemed they knew each other. I didn't catch what they were talking about, but it must have been about waiting for the bus, because one of them clearly said, "Mentres non chegue a morte..." "Just as long as Death doesn't arrive..." I then cocked my ear to see if I could hear some more.
For some reason, the conversation continued on to the stages of life. "Mandan os pais para as residencias e os fillos po internado. E logo compran un can pa compañia!" "They send the parents to a residence and the children to a boarding school. And then they buy a dog for company!" One of the women then mentioned that she visited a house once where they had dogs living inside and that the place was filthy with dog hair, ending on a note of digust. I think she's an old-fashioned person who believes the dog's place is in the dog house.
Then, as the bus turned a corner, and the hills ahead could be seen, the conversation turned to the Monte Muralla, the tallest hill in the township, where a balcony has been habilitated for people to look at the views. Since the inauguration , thousands of people have filled the narrow lanes to go check it out, much to the disgust of some villagers in the area, who have found lost visitors with large cars trying to fit them between two houses with centimeters to spare. At one of the confounding crossroads, someone painted on a garbage container an arrow and the word "mirador", look-out point, pointing to the direction drivers should take. The crowds are a constant, especially in summer. The driver took on the look-out, saying, "Puxeron un balcón de ferro e vai todo o mundo, pero as vistas xa estaban ahí hai vinte anos." "They put in an iron balcony and everyone goes there, but the views were there twenty years ago." True, that. The look-out has had a lot of hype, but the dirt lanes to get there already existed.
There were other non-sequiturs bandied about, and then a man got up in the seats behind me and ambled to the back door. The driver looked up, shifted gears, and started braking for the stop. "Queres para aquí? Pa que me dis Rianxo; disme Santa Lucía." "Do you want to stop here? Why do you tell me Rianxo; tell me Santa Lucía."
The man probably said his stop was Rianxo to save a few cents on the fare, and he replied, "Esto é Rianxo." "This is Rianxo."
True, that we were still in the township, but not in the town itself, so, "Tamén é Burés e parte da Paradegua ata que empeza Dodro." "So is Burés and part of the Paradegua until the limit of Dodro."
This brought to my mind the different local names that exist. There is the township and the town itself that is the municipal seat. Then, there are the parishes and the different villages within the parishes. Within the villages themselves, there are different place names, as well. Where I live, it's Saradal, down the road a few meters, it's O Muradiño. A few meters into the woods in one direction, it's A Carballa. In the other direction, it's Mourelles. None of these very local names are official, but the villagers know them all. But, they might not know all the very local names of other villages in the parish. The driver was someone local.
The small talk continued, and then we were approaching my home. I expected the bus to pick up speed once it rounded the curve just before it, heading for the home stretch before the main road at the bottom of the hill, but, instead, the driver started to break. He was stopping at the stop I had asked about. I quickly got up and went to the front door, which was nearest. I gave him a hearty thanks and got off the bus.
I hadn't been on an intercity bus in almost twenty years. I don't think this trip will be the last.