I mean, he did get us there in the end…

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.

Large chunks of the drive look a lot like the Fraser Valley

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.

Be nice, these were taken through a bus window

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.

Furthest Samwise

19.3852898, -99.1574119

Those are the coordinates I’m standing at currently.

Seven years ago I stood on this exact spot. 19.3852898, -99.1574119 Mexico City, just south of Eugenia Metro Station, it is the furthest south I’ve ever been anywhere in the world.

If I take one more step it’ll be the furthest south I’ve ever been.

Well, that was unexpected.

Chapultepec Forest is Mexico City’s version of Central Park in New York, a giant urban park filled with trails and museums and such, Chapultepec is gigantic though, I think something like 3000sq acres in the middle of the city.

The last time I was here I only had an hour or so to explore and didn’t really get to see much other than a couple of the art galleries. This time I had about two and a half hours to explore, until sunset.

I walked around the park for a while, it’s absolutely gorgeous, I think to properly explore it would take a couple full days but…..

The park is split in two by a gigantic three level highway where the pedestrian walkway actually cuts between levels of the highway.

As I was crossing the walkway a lovely old black lab ran up to me, super friendly, I hung with him for a minute until a woman approached, looking very serious. She addressed me in pretty animated Spanish and after I explained that I can’t speak Spanish switched to perfect English.

She explained that it’s her dog and he’s friendly and that she needed help and asked if I could walk with her, for whatever reasons it was clear right away this was not a scam and she was being genuine. I said sure and we started walking along the overpass.

She said a man would be waiting for her at the bottom on the other side, that he had been there every day for a week and that he follows her while masturbating openly…. yup.

We stopped in the middle of the overpass and called 911, the dispatcher told us they would send park police immediately so we waited on the overpass and talked about dogs until we saw flashing lights approaching.

We continued onto the other side to meet the police and as we started descending the stairs a man popped out from underneath…. uh, doing his thing. She was not scared or anything like that at any point, just super fucking pissed off.

She started yelling at him and I started chasing him, I know, not smart, the approaching police saw him as well and were driving towards him, before I could get to him he junped on a motorbike and took off.

The police were aware of the guy and had apparently been trying to catch him for a while, once the woman was safe and talking with them I made my way to the subway station and headed back home. I leave Mexico City in the morning so I guess this will be my last “adventure” before I go.

The Wailing Girl

Pretty much any time I am out walking around I eventually hear this young girl’s voice in the distance, haunting and slightly ominous. I tried to catch the source for at least a week and finally tracked it down to an ancient steel megaphone bolted to the top of an old truck, slowly cruising up and down each street, the recording of the girl’s pleas repeating over and over. This:

I wondered all sorts of dark thoughts about the possible source, was the truck driver a father, playing a recording of a lost daughter, searching for her each night? Women’s rights are a big issue here recently, perhaps the young girl is pleading for some sort of societal change in the treatment of women?

Or, maybe, just maybe, it’s from a junk metal collector who got tired of repeating his refrain, calling for old appliances and metal, until his throat was closing up, and instead got his 10 year old daughter to record his plea.

Sometimes I assume things are much darker than they turn out to be.

The recording is 20 years old, the girl is 30 now and this mystery recording has spread not only to hundreds of scrap metal collectors in Mexico City but to the rest of the country and down through South America as well.

I will absolutely be listening for her when I head south next month.

And yes, there’s a techno remix.

Mexico City Fruit Review #7

I’m running out of mystery fruit, this might be the last one.

NOSE – You know that thing where you put potatoes in fruit salad? This smells like that.

TASTE – Pear, it’s a pear, in taste and texture. A very mild pear. It’s not great, very mild and has all these tiny rock hard seeds.

DOES IT GO WITH TAJIN – Actually yeah.

IS IT GOOD – Sorta?

Mexico City Fruit Review #6

No idea when this one is ripe but the outside is stating to mold so…..

No smell so far, the skin is super odd feeling, slicy slicy time!

Yeap, it’s another kind of passionfruit, I had no idea.

NOSE – Passionfruity.

TASTE – Whoa, waaaaay too tart. Was I supposed to leave it until the mold was everywhere first?

DOES IT GO WITH TAJIN – Oh, shut up.

IS IT GOOD – I dunno, it’s a level of tart approaching a lemon, other flavours are nice but I wouldn’t eat again.

Poetry Coffee

My coffee shop gives out slips of poetry with your caffeine. Usually they lose something when I run them through Google Translate but today’s poem retains some magic.

it is in us
where it happens
the meeting
and it's useless
prepare or wait