The taxi driver turns to look at me anxiously as we slow and then come to a halt in Mexico City rush hour traffic. He skillfully maneuvers around other taxis, big buses, small buses, regular cars — whatever he can do to get a few feet closer to the bus station where I’ll begin my fourteen hour night journey to Palenque.
We approach police cars and and stopped cars and beyond that, the road is clear. I make it to the station with time to spare and time to settle into the kind of traveling spirit that can make a long bus ride bearable and even enjoyable. Journeying to new places overland tickles the adventurer in me.
Aboard the bus, I say bye to Mexico City for now. Except as we exit, the city seems to never end. But it’s not long after we’ve left the uber city behind before we enter a national park. As we drive through a more natural world, I look forward to the next leg of my journey which will be radically different from the first one.
I’m getting used to travel’s inherent need to make sudden transitions whether it’s at the beginning, during, or at the end of a trip. And it’s slowly flowing into my regular life, helping my sometimes resistant to change self understand that shifts are necessary and healthy and essential for maintaining perspective.
We exit the park and continue on through cities and villages. The sun sets and the twinkling lights of the houses that creep up the mountainsides look like sparkling floating islands in the darkness of the night sky.
We reach the city of Orizaba, and most of the passengers exit the bus. After a longer than announced stop at the station, the few of us who are continuing on spread out on the bus and prepare for the several hours we still have left. After a finger and toe chilling bus ride in Mexico last summer, I am more prepared. I already have on several layers and I wrap my sarong tightly around me to seal in the warmth before I shut my eyes. I am happy when the new driver decides not to blast and sing along with ranchera music like the first one did.
I drift in and out of sleep on a patch of windy and bumpy road. It is completely dark and the only things the bus’s headlights illuminate are the road and trees of the forest that surround us. I open my heavy eyelids again a few hours later when the sun begins to rise. I’ve barely slept, but I am curious and I muster up the energy to keep them open.
What I see is a rainbow sky in shades of pastel and land that is so thick and green and vibrant and so incredibly beautiful. The lines between my dreams and my reality have been blurred. Good morning, Chiapas.