Cracking the “Getting into Faro on a Bus” Code

Step 1: find the bus stop

It’s Saturday. We’re parked up on the edge of the city of Faro. We are waiting at a bus stop about to do another thing we haven’t done for two years – get on a bus. In fact I can’t remember the last time I got on a bus, it could be three years, four years, more? Isn’t it funny how we usually don’t know when this time will be the last time? Maybe this is the last time we’ll be in Faro waiting for a bus. Or maybe this is the last time we are able to travel so freely… We’re early for the bus so I have time to think.

Step 2: keep alert for the arrival of the bus (can you see it?)

It’s a big a deal getting a bus in a new city, especially when you are not a native speaker. What number bus do we need? Which direction is the city? Which side of the road do we stand on. Do we need exact change? How much does it cost? Which door do we use? How will we know when we’ve arrived in the city? Where exactly is the city? How do we pronounce the campsite name to get back? Should we stand or sit on the bus? Do we need to wear masks on the bus?

Step 3: get on the bus

I remember as a child going on a day trip to Dublin with my parents. When we would have to get a bus my parents would ask the nearest passerby which bus goes to wherever and they would know! They always knew! Everyone on the streets of Dublin knew every bus! And they could point us to the bus stop. Years later when I lived in Dublin I found myself directing tourists to their bus and I don’t know how I was able to do that.

Step 4: celebrate your good fortune

Here at the bus stop in Faro I am on alert. We asked the receptionist all the bus type questions and remember most of her answers by the time we got to this stop – one of three (oh no, which one?) bus stops nearby. We are alone for the first fifteen minutes but then other equally alert people arrive. We, alert ones, visibly relax when a few locals saunter along just in time for the arrival of the bus. I put my hand out and my mask on and Denis offers the driver the almost exact change, she opens a drawer under the dashboard and gives him change. (Exact change not necessary – ok got it.) We move along to let the others in and find seats together near the back. The bus sets off and we are on board and also over the moon delighted with ourselves. You’d think we’d discovered gold. And we kinda did – we cracked the getting into Faro on a bus code. This is a great day!

Step 5: make sure it’s Faro

When we notice everybody (except the other camper couple) getting off the bus we realise we have arrived at the terminus and we get off too. Where do we go now… is there an old town? A castle? A church? Our maps app isn’t much help so we walk on and within 5 minutes we are at a marine. There are restaurants and shops and boats and stalls and it’s lunchtime. We wander for a little but backtrack to the marina to eat with a view. We can stop being on alert now, we have arrived. It’s later, we are home safely. We found the right bus at the terminus and although we almost went to the airport the driver remembered us and stopped the bus in time.

Step 6: take a picture of your fish bones and the strange sitting at the next table

Does everything new start like this? Questions with incomplete answers. Senses on high alert. Requests for help. Pushing over the edge of the comfort blanket. Again and again and again. Feeling overwhelmed with delight when you have survived/arrived/found your way home.

Step 7: get inspiration

Reminder to self: It’s okay to start something new and not know everything, in fact it’s a requirement.