Ellen and I are on a bus home. It’s the Tico bus – the one the locals take, that stops at every farmhouse as it putters along the windy dirt road to the farm we call home. The aisle is piled high with livestock feed and people’s purchases, and still a dozen people stand. The man in front of us has been whistling off-key for half the trip, and the man behind us is blasting music on his cellphone.

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Animal feed clogging the aisles

Between the wheezing of the bus engine labouring up the hills with its overloaded cargo and the screeching of brakes as it tries to control its descent, a new sound emerges. It’s a loud hissing, and it’s coming from the tire directly under our window. There are loud groans as the driver and passengers realize we have a flat. The bus driver pulls over to check it a few hundred meters up the road, and apparently decides the flat isn’t bad enough to stop us from completing the journey, an hour and a half to our stop at Mastatal and who knows how much longer to the town at the end of the road.

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From our angle the wheel doesn't look so bad

We continue along the dusty road in the failing light, with the wheel steadily leaking out air and becoming progressively flatter as the darkness takes over. The bus limps past drivers and pedestrians pointing at its lame rear wheel. At every stop, helpful passers-by point out the damaged tire to the driver, who confers with them on the wisdom of risking the journey before continuing on our merry way. Ellen and I crack a beer and grin at the locals around us. We like this part of the world, and we wouldn’t miss this for anything.

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