A few of my fellow CELTAers and I, realizing we were short on supplies, decided to venture forth to the city of La Libertad. We walked the up our long dirt road from our little hostel on the beach to Ruta del Spondylus, the main road, and hopped a bus heading in the direction of the city.
The bus was packed, but not packed as in all the seats were full. Every inch of the aisle that could accommodate a pair of feet was full. Every time someone near the back needed to get off the bus, they had to squeeze and shove through the throng, pushing people and body parts into the heads and laps of the people in the aisle seats. Vendors hopped on and off the bus in different villages along the way selling candy and drinks. One guy was even hocking some cure-all medicine like an old school traveling elixir salesman.
After standing for about a half hour we were able to grab some seats and spent rest the ride sipping on agua de coco that we bought from one of the vendors on the bus and practicing the few Spanish words we knew with our fellow passengers. It was mostly a lot of miming with some random words thrown in on our part, and a lot of laughing on theirs. I suppose I’ll never learn unless I’m willing to make a fool of myself for a while. A young musician with a guitarra, a box of jewelry to sell, and an adorable smile gave us free bracelets so I guess we couldn’t have said anything too awful.
An hour and a half later we arrived to La Libertad. During the entire trip the door to bus was left open and the bus itself almost never came to a full stop. Instead people hopped in and out the open door while it was still moving. Luckily for us, La Libertad was the last stop so no jumping from a moving vehicle was required. A few hours later, loaded down with our new notebooks, pens, and sun block, we loaded back onto the bus home, this time, actually looking like we knew what we were doing.
Original version published January 17, 2011, on tumblr as “Una Semana Fructífera”.