As I run, I can feel my shoes getting crumbled by the crack-filled street. A mixture of fried chicken, rice, oil and smog lingers in the air, smothering my lungs and clothing. I force my path through hurried cars and zig-zagging motorcycles; no special lane for them here, and nobody cares for the pedestrian lights! I reach the bus on time, but I’m not exactly happy about it: I’ll spend the next hour with my legs cramped up in a tiny seat.
You think you know what crowded is. After all, you’ve been to Madrid and Berlin, Vienna and London, all the great European metropolises. You have dodged bikes in Amsterdam and angered an old man in the Paris subway. Of course you know what crowded is.
But trust me, my friend, you will not know crowded until you try to catch a bus in a Latin metropolis. Until you spend 2 hours getting home from work. Until a thousand people try to sell you this and that and who knows what else while walking for merely 10 minutes in the city centre.
When you finally do, you’ll see other things as well, I guarantee it. You’ll see hundreds of exceedingly white-teethed smiles. Entire families doing groceries in the central market. Their kids will be running around, playing with plastic Gokus and Lucha Libre figurines. You’ll eat chifrijo for four euros and a churro for another one. It will be pure gluttony, of course; the chifrijo is more than anyone could possibly handle, but still.
You’ll also hear things. A myriad musical genres, to each store its own. And the street vendors with their farfetched ability to speak non-stop; you’ll want to buy something out of pure respect. You’ll hear people laughing everywhere as they greet or part ways. You’ll end up hearing your own laugh.
No, you do not know crowded. You haven’t had the pleasure.