The end of the line…or…the bus stops here

I’ve been in San Miguel de Allende for twenty-six days and I’m adjusting.

First, and most noticeably, there was the altitude. My home in Bali sat 650 feet above sea level. San Miguel perches at 6000 feet. I knew the climate would be different, but I didn’t realize what an impact it would make having my head in the clouds more literally than usual.

After three weeks, it was getting better. I didn’t feel feeble, huffing and puffing up the near-vertical streets, pausing to pant every third or fourth step. Tired, dizzy, headachy. Trying to fight the dread that I’d never feel strong and confident again. Just an old biddy past her used-by date. That had been in the back of my mind while my body tried to keep up with an insane social calendar. But, as I said, it was getting better.

I’ve made major moves in the past, but never to a place where I already knew people. Before, it was cold turkey, so to speak. I had to learn my way around. Take myself to places where I’d meet people and sift hopefully through the ones that turned up. It was a long process.

Here, the skids were greased for me before I stepped off the plane.

There came a point, though, where I needed to figure a few things out on my own. Like how far does the bus go in the opposite direction? The city buses that cost eight pesos (forty cents) per ride, stop right in front of my house. They come by every four minutes or less. I took this shot of the number eight from my balcony.

This one’s going into Centro, the hub of San Miguel. I usually walk in that direction because it’s downhill all the way. No huff/puffing when I’m working with gravity.

And I have a reason to go there frequently. I’ve grown fond of the Bonanza grocery just a few steps from the manicured trees and wrought iron benches of the jardin, a restful garden park. Bonanza has become a destination and I load up on all kinds of novel items plus a few recognizable ones. I know if I can carry my purchases a quarter of a block, the bus will whisk me back up the hill and dump me at my door.

I do mean dump!

I’m lucky if the driver stops. The door swings open about half a block away and I’d better have my pesos in his hand and my foot out the door when he slows down! Adrenalin rush! My motorbike rides in Bali had nothing on the San Miguel bus!

Señora Petra’s tiny shop is a few steps from my house. It has everything but you may have to dig a bit. The other day I walked in and looked around – you don’t walk around, there isn’t enough space. I wanted a watermelon but I didn’t see one. I know how to say, “Do you have a watermelon,” in Spanish so I asked. Petra bustled around the counter and dug to the bottom of the pineapples. Wallah! A watermelon!

Today was the day after Christmas – always in some ways a relief, and in others an anticlimax. I needed fruits, veggies, and eggs, and Petra’s was tempting, but I also needed a distraction.

It’s a beautiful day for a bus ride, I thought. I wonder how far the bus goes in the opposite direction? What if it goes all the way to that Costco-size grocery-plus-plus store, La Comer? I could wander in there for hours. With pesos in my pocket, I caught the number nine bus heading away from Centro and settled in for the ride.

The farthest I’d been in that direction was Tianguis, the gigantic traditional market.

There are six, or maybe eight, football-field-sized arched metal roofs that house this hodge-podge of delights from lightbulbs to live rabbits, not to mention heaped tables of clothing, shoes, and enough tortillas and enchiladas to feed the entire Mexican army. (Just a guess.) It’s full to exploding with vendors from near and far. Utterly overwhelming!

We circled the complex. A few people got off, a few more got on. Then we were back on the highway, zooming toward my destination. At some point, the driver turned right and we were in an unfamiliar downtown area. That lasted a few minutes. Another right put us on narrow cobblestone streets that became narrower and less welcoming the farther we went. We’d just passed a rusted car covered in vines sitting on cement blocks when the bus pulled to the side and stopped. The driver got out. Bathroom break, I thought. I sat another minute or two then craned my head around to look behind me.

The bus was empty.

The driver reappeared, climbed back in, and stood facing me, hands on his hips. He said something which probably translated, “Where did you think you were going?”

“Is this the end? Are you staying here?” I asked, with appropriate gestures to indicate All she wrote? Curtains? No enchilada?

He gestured back and made me understand this was indeed the end of the line. I must have looked frantic because at that point he stuck his head out the window and motioned wildly. An identical bus rattled to a stop. My driver made a shooing motion at me, “Vamos! Vamos!” I shoved eight pesos at him hollering “Gracias! Muchas gracias!” and dashed to my salvation.

The new driver retraced the jaw-jarring trail back over cobblestone streets, circled the Tianguis Market, and brought me safely home. He even stopped for me to disembark. Mission accomplished. I found the end of the line and I have no need to go there again.

I ducked gratefully into Señora Petra’s shop and found everything I needed, including this beverage.

The idea seemed good at the time. But if you should ever run across it and wonder…unless you’re really keen on beer mixed with lime and, wait for it, way too much Tobasco sauce…don’t even think about it!

12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Karin Grouf
    Dec 27, 2021 @ 12:14:16

    You had altitude sickness. It takes weeks to acclimate and every time you leave and then return you’ll go through this. Drug is Diamox or Acetazolamide only through a doctor.125 mg. 2x a day for two days. You are very sensitive as I and take it for Colorado, Santa Fe and the mountains in Italy. Try a doctor in where you are or go to a pharmacy.

    Liked by 2 people


  2. ReAnn Scott
    Dec 27, 2021 @ 15:49:35

    HA! I am not the only one who has ridden to the end of a bus line thinking they would naturally turn around and return in the direction they came, only to be the last one sitting and having the driver do exactly the same thing as he shooed me off his bus and onto another! Isn’t SMA fun?! And every time I return I must readjust my body to the altitude. I know I will huff and puff and heave a headache for at least a week or more until I am once again used to living ‘in the clouds’. But it’s worth it.

    Liked by 1 person


  3. Array
    Dec 27, 2021 @ 22:02:32

    OMG I love your post- maybe living my dream through you?? Your adventures in Bali were a looked forward to treat- (I supported your go fund me for the girl looking to change her life)- I love other cultures and have done a fair amount of travel in my life including living abroad and in the Sultanate of Oman- cherished memories- I am still in shock about your move but look forward to your continuing new adventures. San Miguel de Allende has been on my bucket list for sometime- I can’t wait to get there and will use your posts as my travel guide!!! Stay healthy and blessed!

    Liked by 1 person


    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Dec 28, 2021 @ 10:41:38

      I’m still in shock about this move, too! But sometimes that’s how it happens. I have a dear friend who spent many years in Oman and goes back to visit whenever he can – also cherished memories. Wayan, the young woman we are trying to help is staying positive despite the roadblocks caused by Covid. She’s very determined and now she’s open to just about any country that will take Indonesian people. I’ll let her know that you are cheering her on. Let me know when you decide to come to SMA – it would be fun to connect!



  4. Anonymous
    Dec 28, 2021 @ 02:04:40

    Love it. Thanks!! SL

    Liked by 1 person


    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Dec 28, 2021 @ 10:42:39

      I didn’t love it so much at the time, but it’s all part of the adventure of a new place. It’s just that Ubud was a small town. This is a CITY!



      • Anonymous
        Dec 28, 2021 @ 13:19:41

        Felt almost like a small town to me as I pretty much kept to a 3 mi radius each direction from the Jardin. You’re right though…Ubud is a small town. Seems I walked the same distance in each. Never did take a bus to the end of the line in SMA though😳. SL

        Liked by 1 person


        • writingforselfdiscovery
          Dec 30, 2021 @ 00:47:41

          Since I refuse to drive and I don’t have access to the back of a motorbike – yet – I have two options: bus or taxi. There are times when a tax makes good sense. It will take me almost anywhere in San Miguel for $4 or less one-way. But for my everyday needs, the bus is wonderful at forty cents per ride. I just have to figure out which route number goes where and there are NO bus schedules to be had!



  5. Pat Malcolm
    Dec 28, 2021 @ 05:36:54

    Beer and lime, not my favorite but ok. Tabasco sauce? Not on your life! No need to try that one again, kind of like that bus ride! Enjoy your new adventure! As an asthma sufferer I can only enjoy it vicariously, so thank you for this blog!

    Liked by 1 person


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