Saturday, December 20, 2008

Señor Conductor's Wild Ride

I love public transportation in foreign countries. They are such a great way to get a sense of the locale you are visiting. The London underground, the Tokyo subways, the double-decker buses of Hong Kong, the TGVs of Europe, the banca boats of the Philippines...

The long distance buses of Mexico are always an adventure, too.

We were stuck on an ordinario going up to Puerto Vallarta where we were catching our flight back north. The primera plus that was supposed to leave at two turned out to be a two AM bus and the only bus service to PV during the day was the local bus service. There was no choice (unless you consider waiting til 2am to be a real choice...)

Unfortunately, there was no bathroom on the bus and Big Dog, being the dog that he is, needs to wee much more frequently than most humans.

"Are you going to be okay? I knew I should have saved an empty yogurt tub," I mini-stressed as I scurried onto the bus, grabbing the front seat (and pushing aside the conductor's sweater to do so. Yes, rather rude, but I had been more cavalier on an earlier trip only to have Big Dog get sick on the bus, so I was determined to get the front seat no matter what.)

We hadn't gone more than a few kilometers out of town before the driver began texting on his cell phone. He seemed either really bored or really sleepy.
"They ought to outlaw texting while driving," grumbled Big Dog.
"Oh, look. He's done," I whispered as the driver put away his cell phone. "Maybe he can concentrate on driving."
But that was not to be. The driver continued fidgeting. Next, he's cleaning the dash with a rag. Then, counting tickets. Moments later, he's organizing a wad of cash. Each time his mind wandered from driving, he slowed down. It was making us fidget. We were leaving town an hour and half later than we had planned AND were on the slow bus to PV.

"I want to arrive sometime this century," I giggled. We were still in good spirits and continued to poke each other each time the driver did something other than drive.

But soon, the soccer movie ended (yes, DVDs have taken the place of blaring car stereos on these long distance buses) and some unheard-of fantasy movie with talking animals appears on the TV. It's dubbed into Spanish and louder than hell. The noise began to wear me down and we're still only a third of the way to PV! The more fidgety we got, the longer the trip seemed to be taking. As the sun began to set, the bus turned off of Mex200. The sign on the side read "Tomatlan 12K." It made me panic.

"I hope there's another way out. I hope we're not going to have to come back this same road."
"I'm sure there's another road out," said Big Dog, uncharacteristically optimistic.
But when we got to the town of Tomatlan, the bus made a U-turn.
"Oh, nooooo," we groaned. Little did we know that the worst was yet to come.

Like, being stuck in this town, parked next to a store selling baseball caps and kids' jewelry, for 30 minutes for no apparent reason. Like having the driver's wife and whiny son board the bus and distract the driver from driving.

("Have you noticed that when the driver talks, he drives really slow?" I whispered to Big Dog.)

Like, stopping on the edge of town while the driver sent his wife out to get him dinner (!)
Like, watching her come back with a giant Styrofoam cup of SOUP (!!!) with tostadas.

("If you sent me out to get you something to eat while you were driving and I came back with soup, you'd have a fit!" I giggled.
"Why couldn't he have eaten back in that town where we sat around doing nothing for half an hour?!" ranted Big Dog.)

Like, watching the driver eat his soup, spoonful by spoonful, driving extra slowly so he wouldn't spill any on him. We were crawling along the highway now.

("He's going 35kph!" gasped BD. He had already passed his tolerance limit and was now threatening to hijack the bus.)

When he had eaten his soup down to the very last spoonful, had all the tostadas, had his soda and said "see you later" to his wife and son who got off the bus, it was already pitch black outside. And what do you do when you can hardly see where you're going? Step on it. Of course.

The horrible talking animal movie was over and now we were treated to some screeching electro-opera at top volume. Perfect soundtrack for screaming down the highway, blindly. And wouldn't you know it, the driver soon got bored again. More texting, counting money, counting tickets...except now we're driving a tad too fast down a curvy stretch hugging cliffs. It's an easy plunge into the ravine below.

We eventually got to PV sometime after 9pm and were so happy to be there we didn't care what the posada wanted to charge us for a room. We were finally off that bus. Alive. Hurray!

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home