On Stupid Things I've Done

>> Nov 18, 2009

It is about 3o'clock in the morning and I wake up on a rickety old bus full of sleeping backpackers in a small town in Bolivia. My back aches from having spent several, about eight I think, hours cramped in the same seat. The driver is asleep on a mattress in the bus station office - I can just see him through the window. We have another three hours to wait until he wakes up and lets us take our baggage down from the top of the bus and I am wide awake.

I stretch and leave the bus, pulling a cigarette from my pocket surprised to see so many people waiting outside the bus. The little car park is full of mopeds that operate as taxis in these small towns all waiting for the driver to wake so they can start ferrying people around.

One man on a moped strikes up conversation. He's about fifty and a good head shorter than me. He seems amiable enough. He tells me a little about the town in broken English and offers to give me a tour, after all there is nothing else to do. I finish my cigarette and look around. There really is nothing else to do.

I jump on the back of his bike and off we go. First to the dock on the river where he shows me the view very proudly, chest puffing out a little as he does. I nod, it's lovely I assure him although in truth it's a rather unattractive brown colour in the early morning light. He smiles and we jump back on the bike. He drives me down the two main drags pointing out the bars and restaurants and then points to the mountains up above us. It is a beautiful view he tells me.

I nod in agreement and off we go, winding our way up the mountain path. A short way up we stop at a view point and get off. We take a seat on the bench provided and watch the sun rise. It is beautiful.

He grabs my hand. That is not.

I pull my hand away, startled, concerned, suddenly realising how isolated we are, how far away from everything. I stand up and back away from the bench.

You want me to make love to you, yes? he says smiling a knowing smile.

I shake my head, backing away further. No, no I... What am I going to do? Why the hell did I get on this bike? Stupid, so stupid.

He smile fades and he notices my fear. It is okay. He says holding his hands up. I no hurt you. I think you want me he adds with a sad shrug and gets back on his bike.

I'm sorry. Why am I apologising? I don't know. But the panic has gone now and he just looks sad and a little lost. The bike starts with a growl. Is he going to leave me here?

He gestures to the bike. I take you back he says with a smile. I get on, being careful not to touch him, holding the handles behind the seat instead. He drops me back at the bus and I let out a sigh of relief as he roars away and am left wondering if he tries that with every bus load of tourists and how often somebody actually says yes.
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