Traveling isn’t like thru hiking, but it is, too. It’s the same selfish glee of doing things on your own timeline. Of being outside the bounds of the society you’re rubbing up against. Of seeking something that’s never quite within reach.
The conductor was the epitome of a conductor, with a bushy, slightly upturned mustache and hint of gotee. I watched him smile his way up the platform on longer stops, greeting his fellows along the way.
I bought a dry chicken sandwich from a pole of a man rolling a cart down the aisle. “Coffee?” He implored a few two many times.
The lettuce I picked off the sandwich lay wet against the white paper bag and showers of crumbles rained down as Azure ate their half. I commented on it and, grinning loudly, they tapped it like a cigar to let more loose.
Before the train we waited two hours for it to arrive in a small, sticky cafe right in the station. I guiltily bought a straight espresso, unable to remember the French for “with milk” in the tension of the moment. French, we realized too late, would have been very useful.
I shed a few tears, nerves shaken loose by the coffee. Azure gave me a half hug until the barista came back in the shop and we sprung apart, terrified of the laws against homosexuality. But he didn’t care.
“Siento como un problema para el hombre y ti y el mundo,” I said to explain the wet spots. We were trying to practice Spanish, but the words were coming so slowly it felt more like poorly tweezing my eyebrows.
That morning we tried to find the Royal Stables, supposedly a free park 30 minutes by foot away. It wasn’t where Google Maps claimed it should be. A lovely man in a garbage man outfit standing near a rolling garbage can (but not actually doing the work of a garbage man) pointed vigorously away from the spot. Two more men agreed fifteen minutes further down the road. We finally came to a few haphazardly constructed jumps behind a fence and realized there were horses somewhere, but we probably wouldn’t find them or their ancient home.
Instead, after I waved over five taxis and had them all laugh “no” at my request, Azure spoke to one in something like French and off we went. It ended up being the wrong direction, but we got back to our hostel after all.
The more than five hours we spent on the train were blissfully boring, as there was no internet connection to fuel my Instagram habit. They were so boring, in fact, I actually was quiet enough for long enough to have something I wanted to write down, this time for myself. Because I know I’ll forget.
That hasn’t happened in quite some time.