Thoughts from a Spanish Bus

The trip from Madrid to Bilbao started at four in the afternoon and wasn’t over until I was at the Airb&b apartment at ten at night. I had flown from Hamburg at eight o’clock in the morning, so I was pretty tired by the time I sat on the bus that would take me to the Basque Country, which-for those who, like me, have no clue when it comes to Spanish geography-is a northern autonomous community that includes the provinces of Gipuzkoa, Araba/Álava, and Bizkaia/Biscay. Bilbao is located in the northern part of Bizkaia.

As soon as I sat on the bus I took out the book I had bought at the airport, Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert. About forty minutes later I had fallen asleep, tired from travelling the whole day. I woke up an hour later, when the bus stopped in front of one of those convenience stores found on the road in the middle of nowhere. For a few seconds I thought we’d have a five-minute pause to get a coffee, and I was glad. A good coffee was just what I needed. To my disappointment, there would be no pause, yet: a man simply got out of the bus, and we went on our way. (The coffee you see in the picture is from the airport).

We drove through what I guess was a town, but was actually just a couple of blocks of houses made of beautiful big stones and iron grills. Sitting next to one of the doors there was a woman dressed in pink and I wondered whether she was having a pleasant day. With such weather and in such a peaceful place, I imagined she was. I think I myself will miss the silence that is only found when one lives at the outskirts of a small place when I move back to the big city. The landscape soon turned warm yellow and there was nothing but a few trees here and there, and no people whatsoever. In one of the road signs I read that we were on our way to the city of Burgos and I remembered my friend the writer, whose last name is Burgos. He is not very well-known yet, but soon will; he’s got far too much talent to go unnoticed.

The last time I was in a bus for so many hours was when I passed through the Scottish Highlands on my way to Loch Ness, but the landscape could not have been more different. Sitting there with my legs asleep and my back cramped, I remembered what I always say when I think about travelling: I don’t only like the places I go to, I like the routes I take to get there. Sorry if anyone loves discovering new places but hates getting there. I think that the uncomfortable hours in which one cannot move a lot, the babies crying in the background and the bad food are important parts of the journey. I suppose the same can be said of life, I cannot go out to see new things and expect to find what I have at home; sometimes that might be uncomfortable, but by the end I always find out that it was worth it.

On this journey I also noticed something else: no matter how much I love travelling by plane or train, there is no way I can appreciate a place as much as I do when I take a car or a bus. Camión, we call it in Mexico; Autobús, in Spain; or Colectivo, in Argentina.

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