Change Yourself…Change The World.

Musings On A Bus Ride At Midnight
February 21, 2012, 12:37 am
Filed under: Paraguay

I was on my way back from Encarnación (one of the largest cities in Paraguay, all the way south) last night after a wild celebration of Carnaval, South America’s biggest party of the year. After a couple of days of constant traveling, non-stop sweating from the intense heat, crashing on friend’s couches, and few and far showers in between, my body was literally aching to get back to my bed in Caazapá. As La Yuteña, my bus line, careened down a dirt road at midnight, I felt perpetually stuck in time, oscillating between sticking my head out the bus window in vain for a cool breeze, and then reeling it back in after choking on thick red dust.

Somewhere near the end of my six hour bus ride, the ride suddenly became packed. I don’t know why at least one hundred people suddenly decided to board a bus to Asunción at midnight, but this journey promptly dissolved into chaos; screaming babies, stout Paraguayan men clutching oversized bags, scrawny 12 year old boys trying to huddle in the aisle to sleep. Who knew the middle of the department of Caazapá, home to nothing except dirt roads and forest, held so many people? A mother clinging a baby with a cleft palate slowly pushed her way down the aisle, grasping onto the bus chairs with one hand for support as the 80 MPH bus showed no signs of slowing down. It’s midnight on the most packed bus of my life, and even the men aren’t offering her a seat. I stood up, bracing myself for the chaos as I offered her relief against the zoo of human bodies. Gratefully, the mother sank down into the bus seat, and I set up shop in the aisle.

Next to her was another mother, tenderly holding a sleeping baby in her arms. I watched as they started to chatter in Guaraní, perhaps about their babies or the bus ride, or maybe just about their lives. Two women who got on the bus at different times, who had never met each other before, united in this crazy scenario.

And it made me think- perhaps these women will form a friendship. Perhaps they will continue to speak to each other after they get off the bus. Maybe they will be support systems for each other in raising their children, or getting through life in the middle of Caazapá. Or perhaps they will never speak to each other again at all. But I do know that their interaction with each other was made possible because I had been there; because I had existed on that bus, because I had a bus seat that I gave to the mother with the cleft palate child.

And even if I don’t accomplish anything in my service- maybe I don’t ever build anything significant, or change people’s lives for the better- maybe just the fact that I am existing in Paraguay right now is changing someone’s world. Maybe just because I merely existed to offer someone else a seat. Maybe.


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Now you are getting it! You just BEING there is the change you want to be……

Comment by Aleta katra

Awesome piece, Brittany, and yes, you make a difference every day, no matter how small or what to you may be inconsequential. Keep up the posts and pics.
– Shavon’s dad

Comment by Jay

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