Growing up in Fairfax County Virginia, just a stones throw from Washington DC I remember always riding the bus to get to and from, well, whatever. I remember once my mom had this little Renualt, but I don’t recall having it for very long. So we walked, took the bus, and occasionally got a cab. Buses didn’t have the stigma they do now. It was OK to ride a bus. The ran all through the region, you bought a ticket and if needed got transfer slips to get you to your next bus if travelling long distances. They were clean.
Coming in to my teen years I remember taking the bus in to Alexandria’s Old Town to go shopping, go to the skating rink or the White Tavern for burgers with friends. I also remember going into DC to visit the Smithsonian Museums. I liked the bus, it gave me freedom.
Then when I was about 17 or 18 I decided I needed a car. I was working at a Membership Department Store, GEM. I was also living with my grandmother.
My grandmother offered to buy me a car, I seriously considered an Opal. I declined that offer and bought myself a Blue 64 Plymouth Valiant, a push button automatic, with a hole about 2/3rds up the gas tank and a headliner that was coming down, and sunvisors cracked and splitting. This was about 1972. I loved that car. It was mine, no strings, no threats, all mine. I even paid my own insurance. I knew there would be too many games and threats of having to relinquish the keys if I allowed my grandmother to assist with any of the costs.
Buying that car pretty much ended my use of buses. Then buses changed, stigma.
Now, 40 years later and I am back to loving buses. Well not the Merida city buses, they are driven by madmen. I’ve often said that using city buses in Merida is not a spectator sport, it is full contact.
But for travelling distances, you can’t beat the buses. The ADO fleet is made up of 3 class buses; the ADO, ADO GL, and ADO Platino. We recently took a trip to Belize. Eight of us went, we took the bus, and not one of the top of the line buses either. Padded seats that recline, see through pull down shades, or dark curtains on the windows, you choose which you want to use. TV monitors for the movies they play, air conditioning, overhead storage, enough leg room to cross your legs if you want, and even bathrooms.
Here in the Yucatan, which is a flat limestone shelf, we aren’t afforded the beauty of striking vistas. But that does not make the travel unappealing. In fact it is anything but.
The views are a symphony for your eyes. Sometimes beautiful and melodic, sometimes discordant and a little disconcerting, and other times an explosion of vignettes of life.
Our recent trip was like that for me. Sitting by the window with my eyes unfocused just watching the scenes as we sped by, like flash cards
chickens scratching through the debris under a ramon tree by the side of the road
skinny little dogs stretched out in the shade beside a building.
a man seen through the cracks of the thin log structure of his house, lying in his hammock with a baby sitting up on his stomach.
women in the side yard washing clothes in a batea and hanging them over bushes and fence.
a horse tethered to a stake by the side of the road munching on the grasses there
a store front offering flashes of red and yellow as they advertise coke and the PRD.
kittens playing in an empty lot
a young couple in a romantic clench, kissing and touching, just inches from the side of the road as we swept by, not even flinching as their hair and clothes blew from the wind disturbance we created.
goats lazily crossing the street
short elderly women in bleached white huipiles with loads of sticks and small logs in a cloth bundle on their backs held in place by a cloth strap around their foreheads as they emerged from a cut in the woods.
middle aged women in stretchy shorts and t-shirts with slogans like ‘I’m sexy and I know it’ walking to some unknown by me destination.
four young men all bent over peering in to a bucket
birds flitting between trees, doves lined up on the overhead wires, tales flicking to maintain balance
piles of burning leaves and household trash smoldering
young girls combing each others hair and giggling over some secret told in whispers
a windmill with its blades spinning slowly in the afternoon heat.
a small stand and group of people gathered at a tope with things to sell the passers by as they slow; mandarinas, plastic cups of cut mango, cucumber, and melon, wedges of pan de elote, or sweet crackers, bottle of aguas de pitaya, jamaica and horchata.
a man sitting in his car reading por esto
a wooden table a scale with slabs of meat hanging above from hooks, and a fellow standing there sharpening his knife while he chats up the woman explaining what she wants.
we pass stands of fruits and veggies, homemade treats, and hand crocheted items
people laughing, sitting, strolling, animals, trees, bushes, flowers, limbs, discarded tires, even this morning I recall it vividly, as if flash cards are being turned over in rapid succession.
Yes, I do love bus travel, it offers me the freedom to take all this in, unhindered