RIO DULCE, Guatemala- The town of Rio Dulce sits in the far east of Guatemala along the river of the same name. This is jungle area. I have not been to this part of Guatemala before — and when I think about it, this is the third time that I have traveled in Central America, not having visited the Caribbean coast. This was a funny realization to have considering the entire stretch of Central American from east to west only takes up a few degrees of longitude.
So I walked to the Litegua bus station in Guatemala City and bought two tickets to Rio Dulce. At 60 quetzales each — $7.50 — this was not a tough price to pay for the six or seven hour ride.
The problem was keeping Petra occupied for this amount of time. Petra hates buses. No, Petra hates not being able to move, she hates sitting still, she hates not having a constantly revolving scene of people, places, things, and puppies criss crossing before her. To sit her on a bus for hours is to bring the kaleidoscopic motion of her young life — the perpetual motion — to a stand still.
Petra has not yet learned the art of day dreaming while staring out a bus window. No, the minds of babies and small children are too immediate for this art, the joy of looking out the window is reserved for the mature. Someday she will love these long bus rides — as her parents do.
Though I cannot say that her parents enjoy riding on buses with an occasionally screaming baby. We departed from Antigua really early in the morning in hopes that Petra would sleep for much of the way. She did. From Antigua to Guatemala City and the walk to the bus station she slept. She also slept for around two hours to Rio Dulcue.
Then she woke up.
She wanted to play.
What the f’ck can you play in a bus seat? You can only dangle a toy so much before the absolute bordom of it cringes both your guts and mind as well as that of your child. Petra made quick work of her toys, the tit, and smileing at the lady in the seat in front of us. Halfway through the journey, she broke: the boredom got the best of her, she wanted to be entertained.
At least she made it half way.
I went to the seat behind Petra and Chaya — to give them more room to play of course — and bailed. The ineffectiveness of my playtime actions were too much to bear. I went to sleep. Mommies have magical entertainment attributes for the joy of their babies anyway, don’t they?
My traveling family arrived in Rio Dulce with a very worn out mommy — a mommy who was more than a little sore with daddy.
“You left me hanging,” my wife said solomnly upon arrival.
“I know,” I said claiming self-preservation.
“The bus conductor played with her more than you.”
“The lady in the front seat played with her more than you.”
[additional guilty silence]
I got caught. I promised my wife that I would not do that again.
“We need to work together at this, we need to be a team. I can’t do this alone.”