I love the bus. I love sitting at a window seat and listening to music while the city passes by. I love people watching. I love the familiarity of knowing the city by bus stops and imagining my location in relation to my proximity to la linea 101 and its path to my corner.
Today, I boarded the bus, stumbled through telling the driver my stop’s street name (I often have to repeat it several times because of my accent), and found a seat tucked between the wall and another passenger. It was a long bus ride, and I relished the time without expectations; once I’m on the bus, there’s nothing I can do to make it go faster.
I sit and watch the people around me: pockets of friends chatting and laughing, solo people who get on and off wordlessly, and whole families full of children piled on laps and in between seats. An older woman stumbles forward as the bus comes to an abrupt stop and multiple people reach out to steady her and ask if she’s alright. She clings to the pole until she gets off at the next stop.
There was a man selling churros on the bus today, his wicker basket resting on a platform between the seats. I watched a boy, probably 12 or 13, hand him a handful of pesos and chow down on his churro, coated with cinnamon sugar from an old Gatorade bottle. The churro man was gone before I could get one.
The bus doesn’t always smell like cinnamon sugar and fried dough. On humid days, you can feel the damp, unmoving air settle within the bus’s walls. Sometimes it’s stifling.
When I’m with my friends, my favorite seats are the ones across from each other: two rows, face-to-face, where you can create a little world that’s just you and them. I like to sync my music with theirs and pass the bus ride quietly, connected across our own little bus-thought worlds.
Sometimes, I sit in the back where I feel every bump and turn aggressively. I’m still shocked I haven’t seen many (if any) accidents in my three months here, since tailgating is just driving, and every bus driver seems to hurtle down the street as fast as traffic allows. Today, I was sitting near the front (where the churro man was) which saved my stomach but gave me a full view of the street as we weaved precariously between cars and other buses.
Caroline asks if I would rather be a bus driver in a city of my choosing or live in my college town working whatever job I want for the rest of my life. I tell her a bus driver, because I can’t imagine living in my college town for the rest of my life, although I’m not sure I would have the guts for it in this city.
Not infrequently, I miss my stop. For everything I love about the bus, it’s impossible to tell where you’re at unless you know the route or are staring at Google Maps. Sometimes, I get lost in the ride and resurface just as we speed past the stop. Luckily, bus stops are usually every couple of blocks, and I just get off at the next one.
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I'm a junior sociology and anthropology major at Carleton College in Minnesota. I'm also a prospective Spanish minor and I'm both excited and nervous to dive into a semester of Spanish immersion in Argentina. Although I go to school in a small town, I love cities and am endlessly fascinated by their different cultures and dynamics, so I'm especially excited to be living in Buenos Aires this fall. At school, I play club frisbee and write for my college's news site, and in my free time, I love to lounge with a good book, cook meals with my housemates, and enjoy the outdoors.