Inside the Train
Getting to the terminal, checking departures, waiting. It is always this way. When traveling by train regularly, each time is similar to the last one, but is still a new and unknown adventure. Many people enjoy sitting and admiring the mountains and little houses through the window. Travelers may also sleep as much as possible, so they can shorten the time, and once they wake up it seems as if they have magically arrived at their final destination. Inside each passenger car, between all those hours spent restlessly waiting, there is life going on. Human stories are there, on hold until somebody smiles, laughs or starts a shy conversation.
We almost missed the train. We ran as fast as our heavy backpacks allowed us and quickly climbed into the compartment car. The Czech Republic had treated us well and we shared the same vibe: after walking around Prague, we felt the need to read Franz Kafka, not as an assignment from high school but for our personal enjoyment. There was a couple in the cabin we occupied. We secretly reminded ourselves that we were in Europe, so our loud Latino speech was not so typical –we had to speak a bit more softly. The man in the cabin kindly helped us to put our backpacks on the luggage rack, and one of us uttered a word in Spanish in the midst of all the rush and chaos. Suddenly all eyes in the cabin sparkled, hopeful.
“You speak Spanish?” the man asked curiously.
“Yes, we do. Where are you guys from?” one of us replied.
“Paraguay, and you?”
“We are from Chile.”
The usual silence in the train was then forgotten, at least in the Latino cabin. We spoke about Kafka, the prices in Europe, the beautiful places we had seen, Paraguayan food and of course, love. The four hour ride quickly passed as we exchanged our thoughts and got closer to Berlin. Words, stories and happiness occurred in that cabin, all because someone dared to start a conversation.
Our mixture of accents was quite a show for the people in the coach car. I tried to speak quietly, but my Mexican and Colombian friends did not mind all the eyes staring. Valeria, the Mexican, was complaining about how her apartment’s landlord had said he would call early to arrange a meeting and hand us the keys to our flat. It was past midday already.
“If you say ‘early’ in Argentina, it means ‘at four in the afternoon’.” she said dramatically.
The man sitting in front of me had been following our conversation for a few minutes. As soon as he heard that last sentence, he laughed. We looked at him and of course he would not say it aloud, but his eyes screamed “You got me!”. We laughed back. There it was, an Argentinian man acknowledging what the Mexican girl had just stated. Sometimes it takes a lot of words, but this time no further conversation was needed. Only chuckles were enough to get to know him.