Austin to Monterrey

mexican-bus.jpgThe woman at the desk has never heard of that bus station before. It's on East 7th and Shady Lane, in the shady part of town.

I arrive at ten o'clock. The woman at the counter tells me the 10:15 ticket I bought online doesn't take me where I'm trying to get.

So she puts me on the 9:30. Which doesn't show up until 10:45.

This was the second leg of a mythic bus ride. I'd scheduled this route in January 2007. I was going to fly from New York to Austin. Bus from Austin to Monterrey. Monterrey to Central Mexico. My flight was canceled because Austin was frozen.

I gave myself a high-five for following through, three years later. I took a sip of water.

Earlier, hotel security accused me of shoplifting. I had elaborately stolen a bottle of water, M&M cookies, and a package of Fig Newtons. Then the mook realized the hotel didn't sell those products.

lacasadelbarrio.jpgA little girl played with her hula hoop. We waited for an hour at the border. I was surprised to learn that the $20 I paid behind closed doors was actually part of the bureaucracy.

Our bus arrived at the customs gate. The bus driver asked for a volunteer to push the button. If the light turned red, the whole bus had to show their bags to armed officials. If it was green, we could pass. The button was pushed, then the passengers applauded. We were on our way.

We got to the bus terminal at dawn. A taxi drove me to the hostel. I barely remembered that I was in another country.

The gate was locked. There were no attendants to open it. Late night revelers, returning home, let me in. I fell asleep on the couch.


Joshua Heller is a writer who travels, a lot. His favorite food is tacos. Check out his blog: