The Mexican bus… everything you ever/never wanted

By January 16, 2009 Insights

I have to admit that I’m not a “bus” person. Meaning that while I don’t have anything at all against taking a bus, and in fact actually would prefer it if convenient, spending most of my life in California means that my bus experience is fairly limited. In fact with a few exceptions in Paris and New York, my bus involvement has been pretty focused on the 10 Townsend in San Francisco and the #3 bus in Rabat. But even admitting my naiveté when it comes to this mode of transport, I’m sure that the Mexican bus is fairly unique.

My first taste came on my ride from the terminal del Norte in Mexico City to the pyramids at Teotihuacan. As we boarded the bus, so did a vendor selling a vast selection of snacks and drinks. I thought, great, how convenient for a 1 hour trip, but not feeling too hungry, I declined.

At the first stop, a young guy boarded with his guitar, proceed to unpack it from its case next to me and then serenaded us all with typical mexican fare starting with Qui sas, qui sas, qui sas. At the next stop he stepped off, 30 pesos richer (me, 5 pesos poorer). At the third stop, we were plied with trays of colorful jello. Again, I declined, but not because of hunger. At the fourth stop, lovely loaves of plastic wrapped bread were paraded down the aisle. A culinary and cultural adventure and we hadn’t even reached our destination.

My next experience was on the ETN bus from Mexico City to San Miguel. This is the business class of buses. No one parading down the aisle because everything you could ever or never need is right there, from your plastic wrapped croissant sandwich, chocomints and Fresca as you board, to free headphones, 2 movies, a choice of music channels and cushy reclining seats. Wow.

My most recent excursion was a 10-minute trip up the hill on the local San Miguel bus to visit the flea market. This time we were entertained by a man in a nice jacket and large briefcase who touted the wonders of a little jar of cream that (if I understood right) could treat anything from arthritis to eczema and even make your nails stronger.

I’m not sure what would happen if I tried hawking a fresh batch of cookies on the 10 Townsend back home. Might be something to think about if I need to subsidize my sabbatical. Persimmon walnut with a side of Stairway to Heaven anyone?

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