Monday, June 28, 2010

Bus Buskers and Food Vendors...Bus Fun in Mexico

In May, Ken and I visited my daughter Kimzey in Zapopan, Jalisco, Mexico. Zapopan is a city of a million people; it's right beside Guadalajara, a city of 1.5 million. Getting around in the area was very easy...partly thanks to Kimzey, who already knew the bus schedules, fares, etc., and how to negotiate with taxi drivers. But partly because there is a wonderful bus system there. For the week that we were there, we either walked, rode the bus, or occasionally took a taxi. There are so many buses in the buses and privately run buses. You never have to wait long for a bus. I preferred riding the bus to taking a taxi. Those taxi drivers drove fast and no seat belts were required. I was usually terrified when I was in a cab. The drivers were nice enough--they just liked to get places fast. And there was so much traffic.
Not only were there lots of buses within the city, but it was easy and cheap to travel by bus through the countryside, to outlying towns. We made three day trips by bus to Tequila, Teuchitlan and Chapala.

We had some interesting bus experiences. It's common, we found out, on the bus trips out of town, for people to jump on the bus selling snacks. This happened at many of the stops. Sometimes they had candy bars and pre-packaged snack foods. Other times it was cut up fruit. And on one of the trips...I think it might have been to Teuchitlan, two little boys got on the bus. They stood up by the driver for awhile; then several miles down the road, they moved to midway in the bus and started singing! They sang three or four songs, then held out their hats for money as they exited the bus. Then a guy with a guitar got on and sang and played for a few miles. Then another couple of kids got on and sang for awhile! We seemed to be the only American tourists on the buses there. Everyone seemed quite used to these vendors and buskers.

Coming back from Tequila, I noticed that it seemed like we were stuck in second gear...out in the middle of the countryside...We stayed in that straining mode for awhile, till the driver finally gave up and pulled off to the side of the road. We had a bus full of people, but no one seemed in the least bit annoyed. (And it was not because all these folks had been touring the Tequila factories, either! Like I said, I think we were the only tourists.) So we sat on the side of the road for 15 or 20 minutes, and another bus stopped for us. We climbed through the scrappy weeds to the new bus, which already had a fair amount of passengers on it. The driver helped the ladies, if we needed it, and we got on our way. No bitching and moaning. Very peaceful...I did not hear one complaint. I was pretty amazed.
Another time that I didn't hear any complaining was riding the MacroBus in Guadalajara. This is a special's faster and has its own lane has multiple doors, more like a subway design.You catch it from an elevated platform. Here's a link to an article about it: Anyway, there seems to be no limit to how many people can squeeze in. I have never been so jam-packed into any bus or subway. It was crazy. But no one was ill-tempered. I was a little worried when Kimzey and I got separated and I lost sight of her and didn't know where the stop was that we wanted. But it all worked out.

We did ride the subway once in Guadalajara as well. It was fine, but doesn't seem to go to very many places.

All that bus riding for a week made me wish the Asheville buses went to more places and came more often! Let's keep telling the city that this is what we want!


Lynn said...

Ya know, we are so spoiled in this country that we take great running vehicles for granted and if anything I mean ANYTHING inconveniences us we are put out. We are so not living in the now in this country. I think we must strive to do more living in the now and complaining less and being grateful more. Also, that culture is not time-oriented the way we are, so to them it was no big deal to wait. Almost like waiting is not part of their language. They are living in the present during the time most of us would be 'waiting' for the next thing.

Busboy said...

It's been a while since your last post. I see Asheville's public transportation is in the news:

I thought the last line of the story was probably the best last word.

The comments are pretty lively, but it looks like a couple of folks do understand the situation. Any thought about weighing in on this one?

Sherry said...

The news gets worse. The latest incident involved a bus hitting a pedestrian in a parking lot. The victim later died. It hasn't been determined yet if he died as a result of the accident, but he was 86 and still in the hospital being treated...Here is another link, in case you haven't seen the details of the latest:

The rash of accidents is very disturbing and, of course, tragic for the victims and their families. I don't have a problem with labor unions. I do have a problem with drivers being hired who have previous citations, etc. Someone is dropping the ball somewhere. I'll try to get my thoughts together and post something soon.

Busboy said...

I'm impressed by the evidence of investigative reporting. We don't see much of that these days.

I'm sure you know the number of bus-related accidents, injuries and fatalities are: 1) widespread all over the country; 2) almost infinitesimal compared to the number of auto-related accidents, injuries and fatalities.

Your state law excluding a municipality from hiring unionized workers means, in effect, you have to outsource. That almost always means less municipal control. (It means a lot of other things, too, which I won't go into here.)

Finally, re: Lynn's comment that "...if anything I mean ANYTHING inconveniences us we are put out..." - Busboy's perception for the past several years is that we Americans will tolerate anything except a disruption of our conveniences and our entertainments.

Looking forward to your future post on the whole, troublesome issue.