Bolivia on a Bus – Bolivia, South America

A boy sits next to me on the bus. His extended family is standing outside. His father is waving, his mother is banging on the window. There are other people: brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, who knows who else, all smiling and waving. It's almost too much to take in; I try to remember the last time someone sent me off.

The bus doesn't break down as much as make regular pit stops. Every couple hours we stop to change tires. When finally, we run out of spare tires, another bus stops and donates one of theirs.

I ask the sturdy boy, "You know when we arrive?" He offers me a potato.

I put on my sweater, it's surplus German army.

He asks," You army?" He seems so excited. I don't want to disappoint him, but how to explain it's just a sweater. This is my cultural contribution, I purchase things. Thankfully he speaks first, pointing at his chest. He says, "Me, Army."

Then we go back on the bus. He immediately falls asleep with his head on my shoulder. This sturdy boy has no doubts about who he is, where he's going, or why. I drift off to sleep.