Woke up: La Cruz, Mexico
Went to sleep: La Cruz, Mexico
Public transportation in Mexico is phenomenal.
Buses run up and down almost every street continuously. The buses range from small 10-person vans, like women back home drive their kids to soccer in, to silver streams with AC, Wi-Fi, Bi-lingual movie, leg rest luxury coaches.
On the outside of each bus, the passenger side windshield displays a list of the intended stops. Each location is spelled out using masking tape or stick on letters. The letters vary in size. Stand on the sidewalk and watch for a bus indicating the place you want to go – Walmart, La Cruz, Mega, Puerto Vallarta.
You don’t actually need to know where the bus stop is. Simply, step off the curb and wave the driver down. He will stop anywhere along the road. Sometimes screeching to a halt if he sees you late.
The fare varies depending on where you get on and how far you plan to go. Simply tell the driver where you will get off and he’ll tell you the cost. It could be anywhere from 6 pesos ($0.50) to 13 pesos ($0.92).
At more formal bus stops, there may be a man with a clip board directing traffic. “You! La Paz! Over there!” he hollars. “Costco? Five minutes! Over there!” The traffic controller holds the bus at a stop for a minute or two, hurriedly checking his watch, and then waves the driver off like the start of the Indy 500.
The buses are seldom air conditioned except the long distance coaches. All the windows are open as wide as they’ll go and the people push their faces into the opening, tongues hanging out like panting puppies.
Riding the bus is an afternoon’s entertainment in itself. There are always beautiful Mexican children sitting on the laps of their mothers gazing around with their huge amazing brown eyes.
You may be approached by a deaf/mute or a handicapped person distributing small laminated cards with biblical passages. Once you accept it they hold out their hand for pesos. Peter took a card, not realizing what came next. After he dropped two pesos into the young man’s hand, I teased him, “Look what your money bought you today, a small laminated card with biblical passages you can’t read.”
Yesterday a man got on the bus carrying a huge tray of pumpkin pies and assorted muffins. “Cuanto cuesta?” I asked. “Twenty pesos ($1.42),” he said. I couldn’t talk Peter into buying me one but they looked delicious. Soon many people around us were enjoying a muffin or a piece of pie while the bus bumped along the cobblestone street.
The buses are usually pretty dilapidated. Coming back from Marina Vallarta yesterday, I noticed the vinyl flooring down the aisle had been removed and the floor of the aisle was plywood.
It’s not unusual to see a young man, after work, at the end of the day, board the bus drinking a beer. All in a day’s work and the commute home.
The other day on our way to Walmart, the bus was pulled over by the siren and flashing lights of a police car. From what I could tell, it appears the driver may have received a citation for allowing a teenage girl to sit on her boyfriend’s lap in the front passenger seat of the van. I guess the officer wasn’t concerned the driver’s side windshield was shattered like a huge spider’s web.
Once in Las Hadas, the driver was casually smoking his early morning cigarette while he went about his job of driving the bus. Another man’s job was to get on board the bus, serenade us by singing and playing his guitar and then pass the basket.
Finally, anywhere there isn’t a bus there is a taxi. The taxis are waiting patiently around every corner. Usually two or three men, out of their cars leaning against the hood, visiting with the other drivers, waiting expectantly for their next fare. It’s a good idea to negotiate the fare before getting in. “How much to go to Bucerias?” “Sixty pesos,” he replied. “Okay,” I say before I jump in. The drivers are always courteous and cheerful. He nods and says, “Si! Si!” even though he probably doesn’t understand a word I said.