The thrill, anxiety, blood rushing through the body as a slight dose of adrenaline kicks in.
You find yourself in a foreign country and need to get on a bus, at a station that is lacking organization. Feeling lost, yet determined, knowing that this is the bus ride that is the most economical way of getting to where your next destination is. Asking a stranger for directions in a few broken words learned in a language that’s definitely not English, making hand gestures and roughly pronouncing the name, “Herakleion.” Another region on the island of Crete, Greece, about two hours away from Chania. They didn’t understand. I run to the ticket booth and thankfully, the woman behind the counter speaks English. Spitting out “number 5,” in a harsh tone, the ticket sales-person gives me a smug look. I look back, quickly skimming every bus number on the lot, speed reading as time is racing past me. “Bus #5! This is the one,” enthusiastically saying to myself. People are crowded, waving tickets in the air and bumping into each other with no regard for humanity. Hearing the bus’s engine roar as a ticket collector steps out and starts shouting at everyone to form a line. Sweat runs down my back as I fight off the 100-degree humidity, my shirt soaked against my pack as I’m carrying essentials for traveling in the Mediterranean during summer (Sun-screen, extra shirt, swim-suit, wallet, passport, water).
Everyone piles in, trying to be the first one on board to claim a spot on the giant wheeled- machine. I step in, greeted with cool air-conditioning, and feel successful as I see the Mercedes- Benz logo on the dash. Sitting down, I try to reduce my heart rate, breathe, maybe change my shirt and get comfortable as the journey to a new place begins.
I’ve been through it, and it’s more exhilarating than any amusement park ride there is. Who knew a bus ride could be so exhilarating? Nothing stimulates your imagination, takes you out of your comfort zone, and forces you to improvise quite like traveling abroad. You’re surrounded by an unfamiliar culture and an unpredictable system that makes you take America for granted.
Traveling expands one’s mind, creates a willingness to explore the possibilities of adapting and acquiring new skills in an instant. Outside of home, there is what seems like a whole new world and you make that happen. Traveling isn’t just a destination, it’s a lifestyle that takes you on a journey. Crete, the island in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, was a journey worth taking. To see the history and riches of the ancient land, enjoying the world-class beaches, locally sourced produce, and being surrounded by curious tourists from all over the world was something extraordinary. Learning to live like the locals by taking public transportation made me appreciate the experience. How else would I travel with a Greek grandma carrying bags full of groceries back to the village, Norwegians going back to their hotel, or run into the Chinese man selling random nick-knacks on a tray connected by a strap from the back of his neck? The immersion of cultures at this one bus station beat any taxi-cab ride there could have been.