January 2, 2002

After elliott and I shared a hasty goodbye (by far the best kind) I boarded the bus at 6:30, front seat right, again. great seat. we departed on time and set off down a straight road. the only straight rode in mexico, and this was going to be a wonderful trip. I was suddenly filled with calm, and realized I had been wound up way too tight ever since I got here, unable to leave the responsibilities of home behind. now I was headed home and for the first time, calm. you have been the victim of all that type A, el, sorry.

Expected arrival was 9:00. At 8:00 we stopped behind a few dozen cars and the glimmer of flashing blue and red in the distance. an accident. We were still stopped at 9:00 so I alighted and urinated into the dark jungle on the side of the road not because I felt the urge but because I was bored and in mexico nobody cares where you piss. There was a line of busses and trucks stopped behind us so long it seemed to follow the curvature of the earth. I lay down in the middle of the two lane highway but the fear of an ant bite, to which I have an allergy, put me back in my seat. 10:00, babies are screaming and there is no way to sleep sitting up. 11:00 I am miserable. I want to go home.

At midnight almost exactly we start to move, slowly, like a barely perceptible breeze on a hot day. I close my eyes and breathe in the miracle of motion. The accident is the worst I've ever seen - a tractor/trailer turned on its side and the real loser, a collectivo (converted pickup truck), smashed to pieces on the side of the road. I wonder how many formerly alive people were in the back; el and I were hanging off the back of one stuffed with about 25 a few days ago. I feel a lot better about sitting on a still bus for four hours. Arriving to a town asleep I stay at a dodgy hotel near the airport to save money on the taxi ride the next morning.

The next morning I find out that in this town the taxi fare to the airport is fixed and expensive. The airport is small but populated by the first class citizens of mexico, and I am laughably conspicuous in my muddy shorts and moth-eaten tee. I sat next to a gorgeous young mexican lady on the plane, and though she spoke not a word of english it was obvious that she like all women was attracted to me and considering how she might get me back to her place. Me, the dashing gringo, in my rugged, torn backpacker habiliments, my tanned face that bore the expression of compassionate worldliness. Yes...compassionate worldliness and as she carefully untangled the saran wrap from her fruit salad I with a single finger tore through the top of mine in the most violent, virile way and although she would not lead on I know on the inside she shuddered at the thought of what this ravenous beast would do with her clothes later. She sneezed. I said salud. She sneezed again. Two can play this game: I said salud again. The only words spoken between us, but words she will not soon forget.

Rather than be the 23rd person on the stand-by list tonight I will fly home tomorrow eve. Today is a perfect day in Mexico City, and Hotel Isabella de Catholica is perfect, too. I have a balcony.