Sunday, March 31, 2013

A Ticket To Ride

One of my worst fears about traveling alone was realized today.  My friend Piert invited me up to Sullana, a town about 45 minutes north of Piura, to visit for the day.  I had no problems with getting to the bus station. The last time I went to visit him, the moto driver didn't know where the Eppo bus station was. I think I got the only driver in the whole city who didn't know where it was.  Anyway, I got to Eppo just fine. I had no problems buying my ticket. The ride was uneventful.

I went to church with Piert and it was a nice day. The people were friendly and welcoming. I met the only American missionary so far not from Utah or Idaho! He was from Missouri. After church, we went to Piert's aunt's house to eat lunch and visit. It was a nice afternoon. When it was time to leave, Piert's dad drove me to the bus station, but also gave me a little scenic tour of Sullana. We drove by the river, and the main square. When we reached the bus station, there wasn't anyplace to park, so Piert's dad pulled over and I hopped out. 

"Do you want me to go with you?," Piert asked me. 

"No, I'll be fine," I said as I said my goodbyes and waved.  I had this down pat. 

I went into the fairly dingy bus station and walked up to the ticket counter. I was in luck! A bus was ready to leave at 3 p.m.  It was 2:56 p.m.  The cashier told me the bus out front was the bus back to Piura. I quickly walked out towards the bus, feeling proud of my Spanish conversation skills.  I handed the ticket taker my ticket and got on the bus. I noticed there wasn't any seat assignment.

"I bet the bus won't be full, I'll just take a seat in the back, and move if someone comes," I thought to myself.  

I didn't want to get off the bus and ask the attendant. 

I sat down in the back and sure enough, a man came for my seat. 

I moved to the last row, and a grandmother and her granddaughter came. I really confused the young girl, I think she was scared to sit next me.   I explained that I didn't have a seat assignment as normally everyone does.

Then I heard the attendant call my name!

"Emily, Emily?" she said.  By the time it registered she was calling my name, she was getting off the bus. Then she turned around and repeated, "Emily?"

I raised my hand.

"Es usted Emily?"  she asked. 

"Si, Soy Emily," I said.

She came back to where I was sitting and told me I was on the wrong bus! I was on the bus to Talara, a city at least (if on the express bus) 2 hours north! I wanted to go 45 minutes south back to Piura! I shoved my way off the bus, hitting people with my bag by accident. 

I couldn't believe I was on the wrong bus and I was only moments away from going to Talara! I was so grateful that she noticed and I heard her call my name.

I went back to the ticket counter and realized that they were forcing me to buy another ticket, even though I simply was on the wrong bus. Since the attendant had torn it, it apparently wasn't valid anymore. I had to pay another s./2.50 (96 cents) for a new ticket on the right bus. I didn't know how to communicate about the misunderstanding and why I shouldn't have to pay again, but "pride cometh before the fall." So much for my Spanish skills or not needing any help.

"Whatever!" I thought to myself. I just wanted to get home at that point.  

I always, always ask the attendant if I'm on the right bus but that time, I didn't because the 1st cashier told me it was the bus to Piura. Maybe there was a misunderstanding between language. I'm just glad I got on the right bus and got home. I even splurged and took a taxi, which costs more than a moto once I got back to Piura.  I'm glad I wasn't on the Talara bus, or I'd be just getting home now.  So life lesson, always, always verify you're on the right bus in life, or you'll end up going the wrong way. Taking detours takes double the time to get back to where you want to go.

No comments:

Post a Comment