>Was in San Salvador. On a chicken bus heading north to La Palma, almost Honduras. Sitting on the drivers side, mid-way through the bus. My big backpack was on my left, next to the window as I sat near the isle. My small bag, under my legs, as my legs were propped up on the seat in front of me. We were stopped, vendors were passing through like the normal parade, singing what they were selling. I put my camera on my big backback, holding it, capturing the chaos. Then I saw a hand cross over me, grab my hand which was on the camera. I look up and see two guys over me. Then the fighting begins. I pull my hand down with his, furiously fighting to keep my camera. I kick my small backpack over on the ground, out of sight. I curl up into my legs since they’re propped up on the seat still. I yell. I scrrrream. Loud
Ayuda me. AYUDA ME. AYUDA ME. HELP ME. HELP ME. AYUDA ME. HELP ME. HELP ME. AYYYUUDDDAAA ME. Por Favor. PLEASE SOMEONE HELP ME. I look up. No one’s helping me. Nobody has moved. 30 people. Frozen. I continue to yell. Continue to fight. I hear my camera video turn off as we were crushing it with our grips. They’re whispering, I don’t know what they’re saying. I’m still yelling.
They win. They take off with my camera. I fall in the isle. Look up and see only the guy that was sitting in front of me run after them to the door of the bus. My sunglasses were kicked to the back of the bus. Shaken, I get up and look for them. No one hands them too me, I pick them up out of a seat with an old lady. I feel deflated. Beaten. Feeling only the word that I don’t use. HATE. Boiling inside. My blood is rushing. Crushed. Furious. Everybody’s starring. Still sitting. Not helping. I sit back down. All is as if nothing has happened. Everyone continues to stare. My emotions are running. I punch the seat in front of me. Pull my glasses over my eyes, ready to cry, but can’t. My fists are clenched. I want them to come back. Cowards. Attacking me while I’m sitting. I breathe and look around the bus. 30 people. The bus driver and money guy don’t look at me, they say nothing. Nobody says NOTHING.
The two guys have my camera. They have the video of them attacking me. They have my skin. They have my best wishes when it comes to karma, I hope they get my kiss when it comes.
The bus goes on. It stops again. More vendors come on. I duck, nothing makes me want to look up. I can’t smile-even at the children. I’m filled with hate. Filled with wonderment-how could a bus of 30 people sit, hear and watch me being attacked? They froze as I fought. It plays over and over in my head. I feel as if I lost. I look at my hands over and over. They’re dirty from the fight. Blood is on a finger. Nothing else remains of the guys.
I fight back emotions. Biting my cheek so hard, I almost want to taste blood. Look out the window to see the view I’ll never see again. Sad to think I don’t want to see it again at this moment but it’s beautiful green tree covered mountains, a blue haze in the distance as we climb to La Palma.
I feel eyes on me from the girl across the isle. The two old me behind her. More eyes from behind me. It’s still throwing me off-NO ONE HELPED. No one offered condolences. I YELLED loudly. Not thinking while I was doing it, all instincts to fight and not give up. And I lost.
My fault having the camera in sight, taunting them I suppose. A temptation. But why here on a bus? Why do they get to win? AHHH IM ANGERED. Shaking, I ride wanting off the bus. GET ME OFF THE BUS NOW. I need off this bus. Eyes, thoughts, I can feel them watching their video of the attack. They own my camera now. It’s no longer my camera. I have life. I’m ok. It’s only a possession. It can be replaced.
Finally La Palma. I ask for a hotel after I take one step off the bus leaving behind the eyes, all those shameful eyes. The hotel is 10 feet from the stop. I ask for a room. I apologize for not smiling and not being happy. She shows me my room. I try to explain what happened 2 hours previously but I can’t. She’s the first person I’ve talked to since I was screaming, tears come. I cry. She says ‘tranquila,’ I say ‘enjoda’ (mad.) I cry more and ask for a moment. I breathe. I’m alive. I’m ok. Minus pride, my camera, and some skin. I’ve lived through the first, probably not the last. And I’m better for it. Smarter. But I have an edge now.
I’m trying not to let this taint my El Salvador experience. It can’t. This country is too beautiful, most of the people are incredibly kind. Buy why not help me? I yelled. Even yelled in Spanish but they still sat frozen. I vow never to be like that, frozen. I still want to scream. But can’t. I’m deflated. Loss of energy. But breathing.
I finally smiled as I bought a piece of cake at the bakery. Who doesn’t smile when getting sugar?
I wrote all of this when I asked for the ‘moment’ in my hotel room. Wanting to remember every emotion, as this was a new experience for me. Don’t be scared for me, don’t worry for me, this could happen in Minneapolis, this could happen in Northwood, Iowa. It’s just rarely re-mentioned. I’m better for having the experience. I’m always careful, but sometimes things happen. I’m going to move on, take it as a learning experience and order a new camera on Ebay, my sisters are meeting me in Belize in 3 weeks. Luck is always on my side.
I need to eat now, worked up an appetite today on the bus.