Chapter 34

“Tepic, “ Jose says, and I jolt awake. He laughs.

Lots of buildings. We’re on a wide street next to a river or canal. The city looks old.  I can see the bus station up to the left. It’s pretty big. Almost like an airport terminal-looking-thing. I’ve never seen anything like it in the US.

Several busses are parked along the building, and there is a line of people waiting to get on one of them as we pull into the parking lot.

The moment the car stops and I get out, heat begins melting me and sweat soaks through my shirt.  I hear some accordions, and the steady pulse of rhythm—it’s that song again—on some tinny radio. It sounds far away. I almost can’t hear it—almost.

The bus station is large and has many windows. The white sound-tiled ceiling is supported by rectangular orange pillars. The white tile floor echoes with footsteps of people coming and going.

I follow Jose to a window and he studies the menu for a moment; better him than me. I’ve been pretty much convinced on this trip I don’t speak Spanish very well, and I certainly don’t read it.

Jose goes up to a window and talks with a cashier. He returns and hands me a ticket. There’s a lot of writing in Spanish on it. I have no idea what it says.

He walks me to a map of Mexico that is taped to the inside of one of the windows and finds Tepic. “Here,” he points on the map, and then I follow his finger up a road that skirts the coast and he calls out some of the major towns along the way. He looks at me, “Guaymas, Guaymas.” I get the added emphasis, and then watch his finger go east to “Hermosillo,” and then to “Nogales.”

Okay, I got it. “Bueno” I smile. He hands me the left over money from buying the ticket. Looks like a lot, but I don’t know. At least it’s Mexican money. It’s easier to spend down here.

Well, this is the end of the line for us. You’d think after all the goodbyes last night I’d be good at this.

“Okay Pancho, come home fast.”

“Okay. Gracias for su ayuda, Jose.”

“Primo,” he says with a smile.

“Primo.” I have to smile too. He’s all right. He probably wasn’t thinking all those bad things . . . I think he’s more than my cousin, he’s my friend now too. We shake hands. None of that hugging stuff.

“Gracias.”

“No problemo Cousin!”

“Hasta luego primo!” I have to have the last word in this last contest.

He gets in his mustang and waves. I watch him leave. Now I feel really alone. I hadn’t felt alone before, at least not since I met Uncle Carlos—I mean Tio Carlos.

I think I like my new family. They are, after all, my dad’s family. I just have to get used to the idea of liking my dad. And liking Mexicans. And being Mexican. God, this is hard.

Where’s my bus? It probably says which one on my ticket. I wonder how many stops there will be along the way. Guaymas is a long ways away.

The ticket says bus 29 here and that bus has a 29 on the front. I’m glad they made it so even an American can take a bus back home. I am on the moon after all, and it would take nothing to get me lost.

I clutch my brown paper bag with all my food in it and climb aboard. It’s a big bus and we ride high on it. It’s pretty new looking. A lot nicer than most of the busses in the US. Hey, I feel air conditioning!

There are two flat screen TVs, both showing different programs. The one on the left looks like a black and white movie. The TV on the right of the bus looks like a talk show overdosed in green.

I wonder how much money I have. It all looks like monopoly money to me, except I know what monopoly money is worth. Stupid analogy. I think I have a couple hundred pesos. I wonder if I’m rich or poor. I’ll have to mail this all back to them when I get home. Maybe some extra too.

We seem to be moving. They didn’t take a roll, count passengers—nothing. The driver just closed the bus doors and took off. How do they know everyone has paid for a ticket?

Ok, lets see what’s in this bag. Looks like grandma packed me some oranges, a couple of apples and a couple of burritos. Yes! I have to admit, the food last night was great. I have never had Mexican food like that before. It’s way better than Taco Bell, and I like Taco Bell.  Wow, I’m riding a bus. I feel like a kid going to a new school for the first time.

I still can’t believe it; I have family here. Carlos didn’t blink an eye. I said goodbye to him, he asked me to call him Tio. I remember thanking him for finding me and bringing me to see my family. I can almost see his rugged cop face get soft, as he looked me in my eyes, “it was nothing,” he said.  “I am glad we met. I’m also glad that the years of silent anger are over. Meeting you has changed my life, and the lives of my family—our family.”

I have a nice little memory to take back home with me—I feel the St. Christopher’s medal against my chest and smile—a few of them, actually.

I have his card here somewhere amongst all those other cards and scraps of paper. I put all the business cards and scraps of paper in my left front pocket, and the money in my right front pocket. Tio Carlos said to call him and let him know I got home all right. I gave grandma and him my address, and he said if I tried to wait twenty years before calling him again, he would come up and punch me himself. That was nice. Yep, this is a much better outcome than I could possibly have imagined. Funny how things get worked out once you get off your ass and do something.

Wow, all these years; wasted anger. Of course I couldn’t have come any sooner; After all, I just turned seventeen. I’m glad I was deported. It turned into a free trip to Mexico to see my family. And they thought they were punishing me by sending me to the middle of Mexico. Ha! Punish me some more—idiots.

This is going to be a long trip. I wonder if they have bathrooms on this bus. I look around and see a closet looking thing towards the back. Yep, figures; they don’t have a toilet in their houses, but they put one in their buses.

Mike J Quinn About Mike J Quinn
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