February 01, 2004
Random Thoughts While Waiting and Walking
DAY 103: It's funny the things from your childhood that resurge in your mind out of nowhere when you're alone on the backpacker trail. I woke up in my San Jose de Chiquitos hostel room singing the words to the theme of "Teeny Little Super Guy," the stop-motion animated series of shorts that were shown on Sesame Street in the 70s and 80s. This random thought that was one of the more exciting things of a relatively boring day of waiting and walking in the Jesuit mission town.
I HAD BREAKFAST at the hostel and then -- still without a map -- used my instincts to find the train station to buy a ticket. I walked down the dirt, residential roads, passed mules and butterfly swarms until I heard a train whistle and went in its direction.
The sign by the ticket window said that tickets went on sale at eight. I got there at nine, but no vendor showed up until ten. I passed the time just waiting on a bench, next to some fat kid eating candy and an ice cream, just after he had finished another bag of candy. When the ticket agent finally came, he told me that the train to Quijarro wouldn't leave until ten at night, and that I couldn't purchase tickets for it until five in the afternoon.
I wandered back into town under the increasing heat of the sun, to the main Plaza Padre Felipe Suarez. The north side of the plaza was the three-building Jesuit mission complex, which I wandered into, visiting inside the rustic wooden church and the courtyard until it was getting too hot to do anything.
Luckily, the old woman who ran my hostel was nice enough to let me stay in my room seven hours later than the noon check-out time -- which was good because I need a place to crash and escape the sun. I took a nice mid-day siesta like the rest of the town, under the wind from my ceiling fan until I went out for a walk around the plaza. That got pretty boring, so I went for a walk to the other side of the train tracks -- everything was more or less just as dull.
I WAS BACK AT THE TRAIN TICKET WINDOW (picture above) by five and waited yet again until someone arrived forty minutes later. There was still no freight boxcar option so I bought a ticket in first class. For only less than two dollars more than second class, it got me half of a two-seater instead of a third of a two-seater I would have gotten in second. First class was actually third class anyway; the air-conditioned, video playing "Pullman" and "Super Pullman" classes superceded it.
I continued to soak my shirt in sweat as I walked the eight blocks back to the main plaza. I got an ice cold beer and sat out, watching the small, random march of people that went around the park. I went for another walk passed an outdoor club waiting for Friday night patronage and the usual general stores until sunset. After dinner I sat in the plaza again as kids pushed a wagon cart around with people inside. A distant lighting storm illuminated the night sky, but it didn't rain. The random song of Neil Sedaka's "Oh Carol" popped in my head and I couldn't stop singing it to myself.
Around 9:30, I walked my final eight blocks to the train station and waited with a couple of people in the waiting area for the 11:52 train. Forty-six pages later in Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones, there were a lot more people in the waiting room with me. A train didn't come until around 1:30 in the morning. I got on that train, only to have the conductor tell me that I was on the wrong one and that I should get off and wait for the next -- others were in the same situation. My 11:52 train didn't come until close to 2:30 and didn't depart until around three in the morning.
As I sat in the darkness, the railcar speeding through the night, I wondered what new random thought would pop in my head, but I was too tired to think of anything and just passed out.
If you enjoy this daily travel blog, please post a comment! Give me suggestions, send me on missions, let me know how things are going back home in the USA. Knowing that I have an audience will only force me to make this blog more entertaining as the days go by. Donīt forget to bookmark it and let a friend know!