Random Thoughts While Waiting and Walking


This blog entry about the events of Thursday, January 29, 2004 was originally posted on February 01, 2004.

DAY 103:  It’s funny the things from your childhood that resurge in your mind out of nowhere when you’re alone on the backpacker trail.  I woke up in my San Jose de Chiquitos hostel room singing the words to the theme of “Teeny Little Super Guy,” the stop-motion animated series of shorts that were shown on Sesame Street in the 70s and 80s.  This random thought that was one of the more exciting things of a relatively boring day of waiting and walking in the Jesuit mission town.

I HAD BREAKFAST at the hostel and then — still without a map — used my instincts to find the train station to buy a ticket.  I walked down the dirt, residential roads, passed mules and butterfly swarms until I heard a train whistle and went in its direction. 

The sign by the ticket window said that tickets went on sale at eight.  I got there at nine, but no vendor showed up until ten.  I passed the time just waiting on a bench, next to some fat kid eating candy and an ice cream, just after he had finished another bag of candy.  When the ticket agent finally came, he told me that the train to Quijarro wouldn’t leave until ten at night, and that I couldn’t purchase tickets for it until five in the afternoon.

I wandered back into town under the increasing heat of the sun, to the main Plaza Padre Felipe Suarez.  The north side of the plaza was the three-building Jesuit mission complex, which I wandered into, visiting inside the rustic wooden church and the courtyard until it was getting too hot to do anything.

A MIDDLE-AGED MAN WITH NO SHIRT ON and a really big gut came out of his back room when I entered his restaurant.  He, like most of the other people in town, was trying to keep cool, complaining about the heat like metro New Yorkers and Torontonians complained about the cold up north.  I had an ice cold Coke while chatting with the guy.  Aside from telling me about his former life as an engineer, he reiterated what Carmeña told me on the train the day before:  that there wasn’t much to do in San Jose.

Luckily, the old woman who ran my hostel was nice enough to let me stay in my room seven hours later than the noon check-out time — which was good because I need a place to crash and escape the sun.  I took a nice mid-day siesta like the rest of the town, under the wind from my ceiling fan until I went out for a walk around the plaza.  That got pretty boring, so I went for a walk to the other side of the train tracks — everything was more or less just as dull. 

I WAS BACK AT THE TRAIN TICKET WINDOW (picture above) by five and waited yet again until someone arrived forty minutes later.  There was still no freight boxcar option so I bought a ticket in first class.  For only less than two dollars more than second class, it got me half of a two-seater instead of a third of a two-seater I would have gotten in second.  First class was actually third class anyway; the air-conditioned, video playing “Pullman” and “Super Pullman” classes superceded it.

I continued to soak my shirt in sweat as I walked the eight blocks back to the main plaza.  I got an ice cold beer and sat out, watching the small, random march of people that went around the park.  I went for another walk passed an outdoor club waiting for Friday night patronage and the usual general stores until sunset.  After dinner I sat in the plaza again as kids pushed a wagon cart around with people inside.  A distant lighting storm illuminated the night sky, but it didn’t rain.  The random song of Neil Sedaka’s “Oh Carol” popped in my head and I couldn’t stop singing it to myself.

Around 9:30, I walked my final eight blocks to the train station and waited with a couple of people in the waiting area for the 11:52 train.  Forty-six pages later in Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones, there were a lot more people in the waiting room with me.  A train didn’t come until around 1:30 in the morning.  I got on that train, only to have the conductor tell me that I was on the wrong one and that I should get off and wait for the next — others were in the same situation.  My 11:52 train didn’t come until close to 2:30 and didn’t depart until around three in the morning. 

As I sat in the darkness, the rail car speeding through the night, I wondered what new random thought would pop in my head, but I was too tired to think of anything and just passed out.

Next entry: Oi, Corumba!

Previous entry: Use The Force, Gringo

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Comments for “Random Thoughts While Waiting and Walking”

  • remember when the teeny weeny super guy helped the little kid play baseball….now that was a good one…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/01  at  12:36 AM

  • Erik - glad you’re back from the NIZ smile Even though this town sounds boring it looks really pretty!

    Posted by Liz  on  02/01  at  12:41 AM

  • Damn Erik, I quess you learn real quick, not to expect anything around there to be on time.  I was waiting for you to tell us next that the train broke down.  If things for you arent running hours late, they break down.  Guess you learn to be patient, nothing else you can do I suppose.
    Oh yeah, missing a GREAT super bowl game, will keep you posted!!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/01  at  02:26 AM

  • As a Torontonian, I retain the right to complain about the cold in the winter, and the heat in the summer. Yes, we are a complacent lot, but it works for us!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/01  at  04:53 AM

  • wow, there really wasn’t much to that town. but the plaza was still very nice. at least you got to read a bit. that is always a good thing.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/01  at  02:49 PM

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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by BootsnAll.com. It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

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Oi, Corumba!

Previous entry:
Use The Force, Gringo


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