I am in the wrong part of Retiro.
Realizing I’m in a train station, not a bus station,
I exit and walk further on, until I find a newstand:
+1 Buenos Aires map
The bus terminal is back the way I came…
The first left past the train station.
Avoiding the crowd, I pass the busy sidewalk on the other side of the street,
and find my way to the first intersection.
No street name.
Train station on the left,
no distinguishable buildings.
Deep down where the road ends,
there are train tracks, an elevated highway ramp, and empty city lots.
But there are three busses off in the distance,
It’s worth checking out.
I walk cautiously down,
A large truck offers sells sodas from the back.
A large warehouse with its’ garage door open does the same.
I pass them to find the busses.
The busses are vacant.
The road shows no further signs of promise.
The sun shines from straight overhead.
I am struck with the thought that I am super HOT.
A cold drink suddenly sounds like the most refreshing thing in the world.
PLUS! I can ask the vendors if they know anything about the busses.
I approach the big open warehouse garage,
And am greeted by a severely dressed down elderly man.
In his wife beater, and wearing his remarkable tan,
He welcomes me with a smile.
I politely ask for a “refresco” (soda)
“Coke?” he asks.
I accept even before being given another option.
“Pequenita o…” showing the size with his hands, he increases the gap from 6 inches to about 2 feet.
“Pequenita,” I reply.
He turns into the warehouse garage,
rounds a stack bottles and disappears.
In the dim lit, cool, open atmosphere of the warehouse, there are a couple of men relaxing .
They glance over with no consequence.
A soft breeze suddenly fills the air with a delightful BBQ smell (Asado).
Three feet to my right, a large slab of pork rests over a small pile of grey coals.
A few sausages are pushed to the side to be kept warm.
The man returns, “8 pesos.”
As I pull out my “faux” wallet,
(I have two wallets… one wallet holds all my important stuff, and the other holds a small amount of cash)
I begin to ask about the busses.
His Spanish is super slurry…
my Spanish can’t comprehend.
3 times, he explains directions in Spanish, but to no success on my part.
but he has a friend who knows English.
The next warehouse door over,
His friend, using hand signals interspersed with a couple key words, produces a proper explanation…
And I understand now…
The bus station is around the corner and a block away.
A short walk, and I’ve found it.
Oddly, the people exiting are being check by border officials,
And the line… yes…
I decide not to investigate any further.
My bus doesn’t leave for another seven hours.
Across the street is a beautiful park, housing huge trees.
and the tree makes a perfect back rest.
I slip my bags beneath my legs,
take a refreshing swig of my coke,
pull out my journal and pen,
And begin documenting my feelings…
“The breeze is incredible.
A feeling of saf”….
but before I finish the “f” in “safety,”
Two legs slide out from behind the tree,
and a demanding voice,
scares the sh*t out of me.
My pen scratches across the paper.
My legs jump from my sitting position.
I am being robbed.
I look up to see his face.
A young gentleman of about 18,
His four front teeth knocked out,
as best as his teeth would allow
and in an accent so strong, if out of context, I would be pained to comprehend,
It was clear as day…
Money was his demand.
I had to play dumb.
“What?” I replied.
He shifts in front of me,
my legs and pack nearly beneath his body.
“Huh?” I lean in as though I can’t comprehend,
I scan my surrounds…
looking for an out.
“MU-EE pliZZ,” he puts emphasis on each syllable.
Though frightened, I do not feel endangered.
I decide, I will not be giving this young man one single peso.
I raise my Coke.
“Coke?” I gesture, pretending as if I’ve finally understood.
He is getting fidgety.
A man waiting for a bus stands 50 feet in front of me.
He catches my eye.
Gently, I raise my hand,
and carefully gesture, with my index finger,
The young thief sees this.
he shifts his weight rapidly from foot to foot.
“Coke?” I offer once more.
With a simple nod and a missing-toothed smile, he says thank you,
takes the coke remissively,
and strolls proudly off.
January 29th, 2012 at 10:42 am
Great story, Mike, I love the way you write. You should submit this scene to ‘coke’.
Would this not make a great ad?
January 29th, 2012 at 10:56 am
Great story. Believe it or not, I’ve used the same trick on several occasions. When someone tries to rob you, just pretend like you don’t understand.