Seven hour bus ride this morning from Mexico City, south to Oaxaca. Line 1 of the subway would take me pretty much door to door from my place to the bus terminal but the supposed relaunch of line 1 on March 1st seems to have never been more than hope.
So I caved and called Uber.
Arrived at the gigantic bus station and my first test of the day, three hallways, one giant sign, the left hallway, to the East Terminal, says ADO buses among other companies, the middle hallway says nothing at all, the right hallway, to the West Terminal, says ADO: Platinum buses, among other companies.
My ticket says “ADO: Premier” sooo… which hallway would the correct choice be? Points if you guessed the unmarked middle one, which I figured out only after humping my 30lb pack all the way to both other terminals. At one point a man was calling after me “Senor! Senor!”, I figured he only wanted to laugh at me, so I ignored and kept moving.
He chased me down, and handed me back my phone I’d left behind on a bench. People here are nice.
I am pissy and hot and sore, but finally in the right place, just in time.
My pack is too big to carry-on so I take out what I need and drop it at baggage, I keep an eye on it and eventually see it loaded onto a bus. Half an hour later I am invited to board, a completely different bus. I half-heartedly try to inquire after my bag but language and all that so I decided to just go with it.
I’m in the first seat in the front row with no one beside me, I setup my stuff and settle in for the trip. I had planned my morning poorly and never got around to getting food for the trip so I had frantically ran around the terminal and found a packet of oreos, some day old mini donuts and a Coke to nourish me on the journey. We leave and fairly quickly I notice the bus displays quite a herky-jerky motion, but it’s Mexico City and traffic is insane so I think nothing of it.
Once we are out on the highway however I notice the weird motion continues, eventually I see that our dear bus driver has one foot on the gas, one on the brake and one or both pedals pressed at any given time. Even on completely open road with no cars in sight he is constantly tapping the brakes, inexplicably, eventually necessitating a tromp on the accelerator to regain lost speed. This repeats for 10 hours.
But YOU said it was a 7 hour bus ride! Yeap, I did, as it was told to me I believed it, just like subway line 1 being reopened on March 1. I am a sweet summer child, far too innocent for this world.
As we leave Mexico City behind, Mr Digital on the Pedals Bus Driver Man turns on the bus’s entertainment system. While my seat at the front precludes me having a screen from which to be entertained what I do have instead is a fully and completely blown speaker, right at my ear, that begins 10 hours of non-stop ,blown-speaker, underwater Charlie Brown teacher voice, insanely loud Telenovelas, interspersed puzzlingly, by Abu Dhabi news highlights.
The Herky-Jerky Man behind the wheel must dislike soap-operas as much as I do, as he has his own music playing, loudly, from his phone speaker, for the same ten hours, and the man loves the ’90’s.
I had earplugs and headphones and everything I could have but I will forever forward associate Mexican soap-operas with Middle Eastern local news and No Doubt’s first album.
A mother sitting further back must have noticed my attempts to block out the barrage of distortion and was nice enough to move herself, and her shrieking tw0-year old, to the formerly empty seat beside me, damn charitable of her.
The lively little tyke was well schooled in the science of distraction therapy and so attempted to keep me from focusing too much on the auditory barrage by ceaselessly kicking my leg, and lest anyone worry about the kicking itself becoming a bother, our little wonder broke up the monotony of kicks with the occasional fist or elbow to my ribs.
Mighty nice of him.
Over the next ten hours our dear bus pilot did most certainly:
- Never stop eating, not once, for the entire ten hours, he utilized a peculiar masticatory style of packing food into a cheek until it could hold no more, ala Wiarton Willie, and then working his way through until enough space was freed to begin again. Tortas, quesadillas, tacos, a beef dip, Cheetos, fruit, nuts, nothing could avoid the maw.
- Never stop waving, not once, for the entire ten hours, he utilized three unique waves: a very elegant QEII parade style hand rocking, a backhand roundhouse motion reminiscent of a frustrated father backseat bowling from the driver’s seat of the station wagon searching for purchase among his annoying offspring, and a forehand sweeping gesture as though dramatically knocking all the glassware in the house to the floor. These waves were not brought on by any oncoming traffic, they appeared to be triggered at random, perhaps by ghost cars only he could see. Often more than one of the styles of waving would be stitched together into a more poetic set of gestures, like a symphony conductor pulling everyone together to begin the charge towards the end of Mahler’s 9th.
- Never stop twitching, not once, for the entire ten hours, the man was never not in motion, a continual cycle of scratching, tweaking, touching, turning, testing, cleaning, wiping, adjusting… every possible part of his own body or any control within his reach in the bus was adjusted at least once per minute.
- Cleaned the dash, steering wheel, and anything else he could, with Armor All, every 3 hours.
- Never used his seatbelt once, I assume his twitching would not tolerate a harness.
- Never let both hands touch the wheel simultaneously, not even for a millisecond, I cannot fathom what fate would have beheld us had this event occurred but it must be an awful one for all the determination our driver put into ensuring it did not happen.
- Pulled the bus over at least three times to sorta just wander off into the field beside the road. (Remember I said the 7 hour trip took 10 hours?)
- Announced at every rest stop that we would be stopping for “cinco minutos” and only “cinco minutos” and every single time we got back on the road no less than 20 minutos later. (Remember I said the 7 hour trip took 10 hours?)
I seriously do not know what was going on with the man, and his driving decisions were often alarming for me in the front seat but he was cheerful as could be all day and got us there in one piece.
Upon arrival at the Oaxaca bus station we pulled in to see a pile of our luggage from the other bus ready and waiting for us there in the middle of a parking lot. Such a good day, honest.