As promised, we have our guest commuter for the month of April. Say hi to Ewuradjoa, my friend with whom I worked till she jetted off to sunny Spain to do her Masters. As much as possible, I’ll continue to bring a taste of foreign commutes to The Daily Commute. Comment as usual and share it. Enjoy.
Bright new day in a brand new city. I’m imagining what my first day at school will be like. All sorts of thoughts run through my head. I look at the time. Oh boy! No doubt I’ll be late! I quickly grab my bag and the most important thing for me this day: my map. Which calle (street) do I turn on? My journey begins.
Minutes later, I’m still walking and reading all the names of the streets. Obvious Johnny-Just-Comes like me are staring with various levels of confusion into big maps. First, being in a foreign city, then reading a foreign language. Imagine. All the tall buildings look the same but for the street names on the sides. The spring air, though fresh, is a bit chilly. Not so for the locals. While I pull my jacket a little closer, ladies are now exposing their beautifully shaven legs in miniskirts and shorts. Guys wear tight t-shirts to show off their muscles, built over the winter in gyms, and of course lots and lots of tattoos – freshly acquired and old fading ones.
Right there on the street lovers are busily kissing without a care in the world for toddlers tagging along to their mums pushing buggies. Couples hold hands for warmth and affection. (And by couples I mean man and woman, man and man and also woman and woman. Love is certainly in the air. This is, after all, Salamanca, where every kind of love is allowed. My only prayer, “God, if You’re about to burn this place please let me quickly escape as you helped Lot!”)
Everyone is generally moving quickly to wherever. I finally reach the Metro station. A huge security dog is gagged and lying peacefully on the floor waiting for a victim, while its attendants choose to chat pretty girls up. Commuters are saying goodbyes. More hugs and kisses. I do the usual ticket check. Where is that blue line in the map to Tribunal?! All this left-right-left-right is confusing. If only this was Ghana, I’d just walk to my junction and without calling, a trotro or a taxi will beckon in Twi, “Are you going?”, or simply annoyingly honk a few times.
Weaving through these corridors I hear music. How nice for the authorities to play music to sooth stressed locals’ nerves! Further down, the music becomes a bit too loud. What could be happening? Oh la la! Here’s this lady in her mid-thirties, nicely dressed, singing her own lyrics to some instrumentation of Que Sera Sera into her microphone. Surely, this is just like the boys on the streets of Accra who will clean your windscreen without being asked and pull out their hands to receive something afterwards. I was right. There on her mat are a few scattered cents and uño Euro coins. Smart girl. No boss to report to, start work anytime and finish anytime your mat is filled with your daily bread.
Finally, I get to the platform to wait for my metro. The next one will be arriving in a minute. I just might make it to class on time! The whistle eventually blows and we’re off.
Standing steadily, I notice more lovers kissing. Ebei! People are reading newspapers and … Is that music I hear? Not again! A tiny man appears, with his sound system neatly tucked in a trolley, holding his guitar, lost in his Spanish tunes. There’s a flute hanging down from his neck as well. How on earth is he going to collect money from all these people seriously typing stuff in their iPhones, iPads, BlackBerrys, and all? Only God knows what they’re even saying on Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Whatsapp, whatever.
He quickly finishes playing his tune and packs up, moving up the coach, to my amazement, with an open bag , also hanging on his neck, gesturing for cents to one Euro coins and whatever passengers would offer. All he says is, “Gracias, gracias” and on he goes. By the time he finishes moving from one end of the coach to the other, here we are at my drop-off station.
As I get off, walking towards the exit, I see him headed for the next coach to start this process all over again. Clever guy, just like the lady in the corridor. With one shake of my head, I walk up the stairs and look for the right calle to my school, praying for my course to get off to a great start. I wonder why the beggars on the streets of Accra don’t entertain us rather than just sorrowfully singing and hanging out their hands for their silver collection.
This is my commute in the city of Salamanca. I hope you liked it. Feedback is most appreciated. Gracias!