For the Holidays, my parents took Mickey and some of my clothes and headed south to beat the traffic while I went to work (mean bosses). On Christmas Eve, I reported to work and then left early to experience my very first trip via the infamous Chinatown bus. Please read ahead for ways to torture someone on a budget…
Normally, I take a Greyhound bus to my cousins house but it leaves me about an hour away from her house and with it being Christmas eve, I didn’t want to put anyone out anymore than I already was. So after doing some research I found a ridiculously cheap fare ($20) that promised to take me to a destination about 20 mins from my cousins house. The ticket said my bus was going to Smyrna, DE and that i could take a van to Dover. It sounded like a sweet deal. I got to the “terminal” and it was a dump. I wasn’t expecting luxury but I wasn’t expecting panels of wood holding the floor together either.
I sat next to a lady who was icing her foot. And being a first timer I really had no idea what to expect. She kind of guided me towards what to expect in this garbage dump of a deal. An Asian man bursts through the terminal 20 mins after my bus was to depart and yells something I can’t understand. The girl looks at me and says “that’s your bus”. And I’m confused… I thought that guy just said BALTIMORE. She says “yes, you have to transfer in Wilmington to get to Dover”. I glance at my ticket. It doesn’t say that ANYWHERE on there. I’m currently thanking the heavens for this nice lady to tell me i was about to miss my bus. I go to ask her something else and she then tells me that I am asking her too many questions and that she cant help me anymore.
What a bitch.
So i ask the man that’s yelling at everyone if that’s the right bus and attempt to show him my ticket. He says “I don’t care. Shut up and get on the bus”. I tuck my ticket away and run on the bus. Our first stop is 34th street where everyone and their mother gets on the bus. The woman who plops down next to me thinks shes on a direct bus to Baltimore. I then tell her whats up- she shrugs. Some lady starts yelling at us and taking our tickets. this was my chance to ask about my ticket transfer.
“Excuse me, is there a transfer in Wil-“
“Yes, okay bye”
What a bitch.
She then starts arguing in Chinese with the driver and someone else and I cant make out anything aside from the random F bombs the driver drops. I’m impressed- He knows the F word. Amazing. Bitch ticket collector then summons the bus:
“If I lost your ticket raise your hand”
Everyone looks around.
Impatiently she says and condescendingly i might add: “Raise. YOUR HAND. If I Lost. Your TICKET.” She gets mad and says something like Oh Well. and we hit the road only 45 mins behind schedule.
I wish I could say my story ended there…but there is a teensy bit more.
On a good note- there was no traffic and we actually were on schedule at some point. The bus stops at Wilmington and I get off the bus and see a bunch of people running to the van. Literally running for their life. its then that I realize there are more passengers for the van than intended and they wont all fit. I see the woman who told me i was asking too many questions hopping along to get to the van and I see its crowding quickly…. i waste no time in shoving her out of the way and getting on the van. 🙂 Don’t worry, she makes it on too but she is the last passenger on the van and the other 10 people waiting on the sidewalk will be waiting till another van pulls up.

Whew! That was my Chinatown bus experience. Cramped seats and angry Asians– i was so looking forward to going home for the Christmas Eve feast that awaited! i would have loved to do the cooking but time did not permit. My cousin had quite the spread waiting for us:
Pernil. Roast pork. Probably Puerto Rico’s most known meat. Crisp fatty skin with tender salty juicy dark meat on the inside. My cousin is quite good at making this hunk of meat! When she was done with the carving, I nibbled on pieces of meat she missed. I was starving from my 4 hour trip.

The secret to her juicy meat will not be revealed… but here you can see the pork looks a bit shiny… that’s all the moisture. YUM! Carol, i saved you some!

My favorite part. Cuero. Or skin. It sounds really gross but this part gets crisped up in the oven and chopped into bit size pieces. Its essentially a pork rind- but more delicious. And note, if its not crispy- Don’t eat it! It is only delicious when the skin is crispy.

I got my piece! Crispy goodness. Really, you have to probably have grown up on this stuff to appreciate it. I know Mari is reading this and probably salivating, right?

mom made Sangria. Potent and sweet, will kick your ass in the morning, sangria. Mom uses a mixture of brandy and wine with some sweet stuff and fruit to make a mean glass of Sangria. Her recipe is restaurant quality- and NO you cant have it. 🙂

The cook! Say hi to Tracey! My cousin by blood but my sister in every other way. She might kill me cuz I put her picture up and her hubs reads this blog – HI CLIFF! but you gotta see the talent.

Now lets talk about the spread. Lets go from Left to right starting after the snowman plates. Bacalaitos: little pieces of bacalao (fish) deep fried in a yummy batter, arroz con gandules (yellow rice and beans), tostones (fried plantains), Pernil (roast Pork), and pasteles (savory puerto rican pies).

I went to town. And who wouldn’t??? this was just what I needed to get over the bus ride from hell!

For dessert, we had flan, which is a caramel custard of sorts. I like mine really thick and creamy like pudding but this one was a little gelatinous…sorry- me no likey this one.

My cousins friend brought over a 4 tiered chocolate tower. Rich and decadent.

That is one monster piece! I did eat all of it- so what? lol
After dinner we all played catch phrase and laughed our asses off. Its been a few days since then and I still chuckle to myself when i think about all the funny moments in the game!
We tucked the kids into bed late that night because the excitement of Christmas was in the air… See My Christmas tomorrow!