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Sunday, January 2, 2011

12/30 Riding the bus in Mexico

We love riding the bus in Mexico. Not only is it an easy and cheap way to get around it allows us to taste a slice of life we wouldn't otherwise have the chance to experience. A couple of days ago Bill, Barabara and I caught the bus into downtown Puerta Vallarta. The ride in from La Cruz requires two buses and takes nearly an hour. After visiting the core of old town PV -the center of the tourist town- we caught the bus back to the small town of La Cruz with a planned stop at Walmart for suppplies.
The names of each stop are written in shoe polish on the front window of each bus. You stand on the side of the road and wait for the right bus to come along then stick your arm out and flag them down. We caught the Wallmart bus but it turns out there are more than two Wallmarts and we were on the bus headed to the wrong end of town, we think. When we eventually caught the right bus we stepped on only to find that there were not any seats left. Barb caught a seat but Bill and I found ourselves stepping into a space where two seats used to be. As we lumbered along from stop to stop we held on for dear life to the seatbacks ahead of us. After a few minutes of stops and another ten or fifteen people had come aboard(the already full bus)we noticed that the floor below us was flexing beneath our feet. I turned and looked down and realized that I could see the street flashing by below me.
The bus continued to stop and more and more people climbed aboard. There were people boarding from the front door and the back door. Each time someone climbed on in back they would dutifully pass ahead from hand to hand their 6.5 pesos fare and then the crowd would again pass hand by hand their paper bus slip. One fellow who was just behind us grinned as he pantomimed pocketing the 6.5 pesos in exchange for his own bus paper.
As each new person boarded through the front door they would just barely get far enough in to allow the driver to close the door behind them. At the next stop a young woman boarded with two kids, one an infant and the other nore more than two. There was a local ahead of her who quickky settled down to sit on the dashboard of the bus and took the older of the kids onto his own lap. At the top of his little lungs the toddler made sure everyone on the bus understood that he had never seen this man before thank you very much. Barbara though got the great honor of taking the infant into her arms and she rocked him until we made our stop.
About half way through the trip a couple of musicians boarded and one began playing the bongo drums at top volumn as the other worked the croud for donations. Because between the traffic, jostling crowd, crying toddler and the grinding gears we obvioulsy needed to be entertained! Eventually we made it to Wallmart all for 13 pesos. Lots of people we meet take taxis and that of course is fine. For us though we prefer to save our money, ride the bus, meet the people and watch the world go by. kat

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