I do not even know if he was a ghost but, if so, there wasn't any hair sticking up not a change in the temperature or any other indication that this was a paranormal encounter.
It was the summer of 1980 and my parents and I went in a trip to the western state of Michoacan. After few days visiting several picturesque little towns scattered on the mountains of the Sierra Madre Occidental using the available means of public transport our journey came to an end and it was time to go back to Mexico City.
Since we didn't take our own car the plan was to travel during the night riding a bus that would reach its destination in the morning. So we went to the terminal and got ready for the long ride, at least the seats in the bus were comfortable and it wasn't too crowded.
My mother and I sat together on the second or, perhaps, third row of seats on the side of the door. Mom was seated on the side of the aisle and I was by the window; my father was on the row next to ours across the aisle.
Our bus departed at the scheduled time and the driver took the winding highway crossing the mountains covered by a dense forest of pine and oak trees.
After some time, the passengers settled in and the only ones talking in hushed voices were the bus driver and his assistant, I couldn't hear what they were saying neither was able to fall asleep.
The ride promised to be long, boring and uneventful but everything changed after a sharp curve in the middle of nowhere when two things happened simultaneously: the bus began slowing down while a man came running towards the road lifting one hand as if calling for a taxi to stop. I couldn't see much of his features because it was dark but it was obvious that he was wearing warm clothes, a heavy jacket and a red knitted hat with a pom-pom on the crown. The best way I can describe him is like a three dimensional shadow coming out from behind a tree that was, perhaps, ten to fifteen meters away from the edge of the road.
Although not a common practice, in Mexico sometimes bus drivers pick up people from isolated places on the road and away from the main terminal so I assumed a new passenger would be boarding the bus. As it was slowing down, the driver opened the door and the assistant got off the bus, I turned my head around to check how far the man was, expecting to see him still running but he wasn't there.
A very short time passed and the assistant got in the bus and said something to the driver; after that they informed the passengers that the bus had broken down and that we should transfer to the next bus if there're enough seats available.
The passengers began getting off of the bus and, since my family and I were seated so close to the door, we were some of the first ones going outside, there was nothing there, not a little hut for shelter or a bench to seat on while waiting. We had to wait on the side of the road and trying to keep warm under the cover of a starry sky.
I was still expecting to see the man in the red knitted hat among the other passengers but he wasn't there.
Some time later came another bus but there were not enough seats for all the passengers and we were given the options of riding the bus and finish the trip standing up or keep on waiting for another bus for several hours.
Everybody got on the first bus and yes, my family and I had to stand for the rest of the ride.
Later, while talking with my Mom about the events, I mention seeing the man in the hat and assuming that the bus was stopping to pick him up. My Mother said that she had seen him too.
So, that's my experience. To this day I don't know if I saw a ghost that vanished in the night or if the man crossed the road to check if the grass was greener on the other side. I have wondered if he had anything to do with the bus breaking down or if it was a coincidence that it stopped without an apparent reason and without making any funny noises or spiting fire and black smoke from the engine.
Another thing that puzzles me is the way I saw the color of his hat if there was not a source of light around.
For many years I have been trying to find a logical explanation for these events that, though not scary, seem to point to an encounter with a ghostly hitchhiker of some sort.
Thanks for reading.