The Pink Bus (or how I arrived in Belize)

The fan chops through the air slowly, clicking on every third revolution. It does little to abate the heat of this place. It is two am and I take my third cold shower of the night.

My skin is greased with sunscreen. The sheet sticks to me as I lie naked upon it. A mosquito occupies the room with us. I hear it ricocheting about my body. Scouting for skin untouched by Deet.

I wake to sunlight piercing the room. Eat breakfast in a fugue state.

Coffee kicks in and I am teleported to the middle of Chetumal bus Station. Board a recycled school bus. Canary Yellow dead to Cotton Candy Pink.

Driver wears a red t-shirt and blue baseball cap. Seats are cracked leather. Maroon. My knees jut into the seat back ahead of me. On the drivers baseball cap a single letter “M” Yellow. Try to think of the team he is referencing before deciding on Mexico. Obvious really.

We drive to the border and my hair is massaged by the breeze from the open windows. I feel cool for the first time.

At the border to Belize we get out. Exit stamp. $25. Hope you enjoyed your time in Mexico. Back on the bus. Drive. Disembark. Entry Stamp. Welcome to Belize. Thirty day visa. Have a nice day.

We drive and the bus fills. People standing and sweating together as we weave our way towards the capital (imaginatively named Belize City. See also Mexico City. See also Brazil).

The roads are dusty and in ill repair. We crawl over them. Stopping at random junctures to allow people on or off or on.

Sitting over the rear axle potholes shoot through my back. I sleep in fits and starts as the people in the bus change around me.

The little girl behind me sings Taylor Swift songs to the radio. Her hair is braided with colourful plastic clips.

Billboards advertise “Happy Cow” brand cheese. At the base of the adverts it proudly states “Made in Austria” I absentmindedly wonder what the capital city of Austria is. And what strange quirk of economics led to the cheese being so popular over here.

There are many places to take worn tires. Looks like they are sold on at a discount. Another mechanic is selling window tints, separating driver from road. Less participant more voyeur.

I do not know how long I was on the bus before we pulled into the Central Bus Station. How many thoughts blinked into existence.

He is wearing a grey polo shirt and asks if we need a taxi. Drives us through the city for $4.

Giving us his business card. “O’Neil Driver. I will get you all over Belize.”

Makes us promise to call him if we need a taxi later.

Walk to the front. Small restaurant perched right on the edge of the land. Waitress takes our order and we wait. Excited each time we hear her light footfall on the floorboards.

On the walk back to the guest house I am offered weed several times.

Not tonight I tell them.

Tonight I sleep.

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