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!

Rosana

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May 23, 2005 — This morning we got up early and walked across town to catch a bus to Queretaro, an hour away from the town of Bernal where we are living. The buses generally come on the hour, but they can come early, so we left our house at 7:30. As we walked up the last block to the highway, we saw a large bus go by, too fast to catch it. It was from a company called Primavera Plus, not our usual Flecha Azul (blue arrow) or Flecha Amarilla (yellow arrow). So we figured we hadn’t missed the regular bus.

Another bus came and stopped. It had people standing in the aisles, and the thought of standing for an hour didn’t sing to us, so we let it go by. We had been told that we could always take a local bus from Bernal to the crucero (crossroads) a few kilometers away, so we said to each other that if necessary we would do that. From there, you could catch a Queretaro-bound bus much more often.

Within five minutes or less, three more Queretaro-bound buses came along the highway. All were full and none stopped. This was definitely something different. I wondered if today was some sort of holiday, but then it dawned on me that it was Monday morning. I asked a young man who was also waiting for a Queretaro bus if that was why there were so many people and buses. He said yes.

Just then another bus came along. He got on it, and so did Kelly and I and a couple of other men. It was full of sleeping Mexicans but no empty seats. So we stood after all. Usually people going a short ways get off, so I figured we would get seats. A woman got off who had been sitting right behind the driver, and one of the standing young men motioned me into her seat. The young man sitting next to me rearranged his large tote bag to be out of my way. I asked him if he was going to work in Queretaro, and he said yes and he wouldn’t go home till Friday.

Nobody else got off the bus, but quite a few more people got on, so Kelly did end up standing all the way. I had noticed that there is an art to holding on in a bus going around curves at the speed limit, and Kelly had plenty of time to refine his technique.

I liked my location right behind the driver. There was a divider and a curtain so I couldn’t see the traffic straight ahead, but I had an open view of the fields and houses on our right, through the windshield on the passengers’ side. The most unusual sight was a dead horse beside the road. As the bus filled up, my view changed to the stitching on people’s jeans at hip level. One fellow was wearing a t-shirt with a motto I liked: “No pierdas el animo.” Animo means pep or spunk according to Kelly’s electronic dictionary, and the motto exhorted us not to lose it.

I noticed that above the door were several personal items of the driver’s: a baby shoe, a nicely detailed drawing of two sunflowers, a Virgin of Guadalupe, and a couple of snapshots. He was a good driver, as all the bus drivers and most of the taxi drivers have been. I blogged a few months ago that I was taking a tranqulizer before traveling on Mexican highways, but that need has disappeared, gracias a Dios.

Every now and then, we’d hear a couple of sharp beeps. The first time it happened, I thought someone was getting off and Kelly would get a seat, but then I noticed that a light flashed up front in connection with the beeps and it meant the driver was going over the bus speed limit of 95 kilometers an hour, which is 59 miles an hour. Our driver was making good time and there were plenty of beeps till traffic got thicker and slower. Once we were on the freeway for the last 15 minutes into the city, there were beeps galore.

As we rode along, I reflected on how we were part of a huge influx of people heading for Queretaro, no doubt from every direction, along every highway large and small that led into this city of about a million people. There is work in Queretaro, at factories and in construction. Most though certainly not all of our fellow passengers were young men. No doubt this same influx was happening at the same time in many cities around Mexico. Work is in the cities.

It was a very Mexican experience, being part of this vast movement of humanity via numerous large buses, and I enjoyed it. Then I wondered wryly how long the thrill of exploring another culture would outweigh some of the inconveniences, like not being able to phone to find out if our visas were ready.

We quickly caught a cab at the bus station — it’s well organized, you buy a ticket at a kiosk and the taxis are in line. City traffic was no heavier than usual, to the historic central district which is all we really know of Queretaro. But it was a little later than usual when we got to the Instituto Nacional de Migracion, so we had to wait a little over an hour until it was our turn at the counter. We’ve been there so often now we know which of the characters on the morning TV show they have running softly in the waiting room are the regulars.

Our visas? Come back Friday. They should be ready.

Well, they had told us that today was mas o menos — more or less.

So we had a nice brunch in a former convent hundreds of years old, took a taxi, took the bus — practically empty going out of the city — and got home around 2:00PM. As we walked back across Bernal, we saw another foreigner who has lived here for some time. I told her what we had just been doing and she said that she always just phones to make sure her FM-3 is ready. We said we had been told we couldn’t phone. She said she always does and promised to find us the phone number. I don’t know if it will do us any good this week, as our business at home needs us back and if we waited on Friday to phone when they open and then went into to town, it could run us too late in the day for some other errands that depend on the FM-3. We’ll see.

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