It can be difficult to get take a trip on an Amtrak train from Mena, Arkansas, in particular if your destination is west. The Amtrak station in Texarkana is 100 miles away and the one and only west bound Amtrak train is scheduled to leave Texarkana a little before 6am. Not knowing if it would be safe to park my van near that Texarkana train station and leave it there during the whole time of my trip, I arranged for a church friend to take me there.
But, things got complicated.
Station staff told us the train would be late. That caused me to let my church friend return home. Eventually, the staff found that a freight train derailed near Malvern, Arkansas, and the speed of our approaching train was zero. Their predicted arrival time kept getting later and later. Finally, true arrival time was 11:37, am.
It was nice for me to finally be on a moving train and seeing trees going by.
However that four and a half hour delay gave me other concerns. My son, Troy, was driving from the Los Angeles area to meet me in Tucson for our own trip. When would I get there?
Amtrak did everything they possibly could to make things as good as possible for us. In Longview, Texas they moved us from our late train to a bus that took us all the way to San Antonio. We arrived there in time to make the connection to our train from San Antonio through Tucson to Los Angeles. That put us back on schedule, even though our being off schedule was in no way their fault.
Well, riding a bus is not nearly as much fun riding as a train. Not nearly.
On the train I had been setting next to a lady who was part of a group of Hispanic passengers. The Amtrak staff did not speak Spanish. Their group did not speak English. When confusion developed, I became the one who helped the Hispanic group understand what was happening. The lady next to me also made several phone calls, speaking in Spanish. I always describe my level of Spanish as good enough to travel I understood her side of the calls well enough to realize she was telling a young lady how much she was loved, and that Jesus loved her greatly.
That lady once mentioned she was hungry. This cheap old man had brought four boxes of granola bars to munch on, so I give her one. Later I gave her another.
Just before dark, in an unknown Texas town, we stopped for a 15 minute only break at a truck stop where there was also a McDonald’s. Being afraid the McDonald’s would be too busy to meet the 15 minute time limit, I quickly used the rest-room, bought a banana, and ate it.
When back on the bus and moving, that lady next to me showed me a box from McDonald’s, asking me if I wanted it. I accepted. It was a fine tasting fish sandwich. After enjoying it I said to her the common Spanish phrase, “mil gracias,” which means “a thousand Thank Yous.” She replied that sandwich was “de Jesus” or, “From Jesus.”