A Quick Update

In 2010, we moved back to the small town in Colorado that I never stopped missing while we lived in Mexico. Now I sometimes miss Mexico, but I wouldn't travel as freely as we did when we were there, camping out in remote areas and so forth.

Mexico today is in a period of change, and in many ways it is more dangerous now. That said, I have plenty of American friends who still live there very happily, just taking a few more precautions than they did in the past.

Just to say!


Visit Expedia…

Expedia is my favorite place to book airfare, and they handle hotels, car rentals, cruises, etc. I like the organization of the site for figuring out what flights I want. Click on the suitcase to take a look.

I was very pleased to win an award for this blog! Even better for you: click through for lists of all sorts of award-winning travel blogs.

Tripbase Blog Awards 2009

Tripbase Blog Awards 2009

April 30, 2005 — A couple of days ago, Kelly and I were returning to the small town of Bernal in central Mexico, where we are living, from the city of Queretaro, an hour’s bus ride away.

Queretaro has a huge and quite new bus station. If you drove into it thinking you were in the United States, you’d be sure you were entering an airport of a small city. It has three main concourses: one for first class and deluxe long distance buses, one for second class buses, and one for relatively local buses. We go to the last one for our trip to Bernal. Within the building, there are snack bars, seats for waiting, and reasonably clean restrooms that cost 2 pesos (about 18 cents) to use that you get to through a metal gate. There are several counters for the various bus companies, and when the people who work there are not busy with customers, they call out what towns and cities their bus line is going to. (The number of bus companies in Mexico is beyond counting. You can go everywhere by bus.)

To get to where the buses leave, you have to have a ticket and get it punched. There are a few vendors in the departure area, but the need for a ticket keeps down the numbers, and those who are there seem to have permanent stalls.

Kelly and I were in a Flecha Amarilla bus for Bernal and the city of Toliman quite a ways beyond it, sitting not far from the front, on the passengers’ side of the bus. I prefer this side as I’d rather see the passing view than the highway. Though these local buses don’t have rest rooms, they are quite nice — many made in Mexico by Mercedes Benz — and the comfortable chairs have high seat backs.

Kelly had just gotten on, while I had been on for about twenty minutes, doing a little needlepoint as we waited. As the bus pulled out of its slot and turned to get in line to leave the huge departure area, my attention was on putting my needlepoint into a side flap of my purse. The bus was moving slowly.

So I was surprised when a man about 30 years old began speaking to the passengers as he stood in the aisle. I was pretty sure (but not 100%) that he was saying that he was not going to rob us, rather than that he was going to.

There is a tradition of robbing bus passengers in Mexico, though in recent years there has been a major crackdown on this. It is more likely to happen between cities at night. Passengers are advised not to wear flashy jewelry. I had a brief moment of thinking that neither my gold wedding band, which I’ve worn for 33 years, and a nice silver ring with a garnet in it which I’ve worn almost as long, would come off my fingers since I do weigh more than I did long ago. It’s funny how these little fear-thoughts pop up.

Anyway, the young man’s next sentences reassured me that I had understood him correctly. He was telling us that there had been a car accident on the way from another city and that a three-year-old child was injured and in the hospital (or maybe that the child needed to be, I do miss fine points) and not covered by IMSS, the Mexican national social security health care system. The man was asking for any bills that we could spare to help with the emergency. My bills were tucked into my purse, but I had coins handy in another side pocket, and without my thinking about it, my hands were reaching for some coins. I handed the fellow 15 pesos, under a dollar and a half.

I wasn’t positive whether he was telling the truth or not, and I wasn’t sure if he was desperate enough to be difficult if we didn’t come forth with some donations. What I cared about in that moment was to create a human bond with him. As I handed him the money, I asked him the name of the child. A little surprised, it seemed, he said a long name which I couldn’t follow entirely. I said I would pray for the child, and added “Que Dios le ayuda,” or may God help you. He said thanks. As I had wanted, the connection had been made.

By now I was sure the guy was for real. Kelly later said that he too figured that the guy was sincere. He would have had to be an extremely good actor otherwise.

Several other people in the bus made donations too, and the fellow left, thanking us and saying thanks to the driver and to his assistant as well. The bus continued out of the station, and our ride continued without incident. One of my favorite sights that day was a funky little roadside stand selling accordians.

Later, we were talking the incident over with our friend Rob, who has taken that same bus trip many times. He commented that sometimes bus drivers let people on to buses, vendors with snacks or whatever. He guessed that the fellow had obtained permission from the driver to speak to us, adding that Flecha Amarilla was pretty strict.

I imagine that the young man was asking for help on as many outgoing buses at the station as he could. I hope he got enough money and that the child is okay.

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