Traveling in Mexico: Bus Stop. Stop! by Dean Bartosh

Looking to stay on budget while vacationing in Cancun, Mexico, we decided to go grocery shopping at the “mega-mart” downtown. I had heard some of the other tourists talking about their experiences with the local taxi cabs (overpriced and crazy driving), so we decided to take the bus downtown. How bad could it be? It was only six pesos and I don’t imagine that those big lumbering buses could move all that fast down the strip. So, with the taxi cabs lined up outside our resort and the drivers all trying to coax us in like carnival barkers, we climbed aboard the public bus and paid our six pesos.
Before I could even take my seat, I was thrust towards the back of the bus as it took off from the bus stop. Now I know how the astronauts feel during take-off. As I was thrown backwards past my wife’s seat, I noticed that her face had already gone completely white. I quickly grabbed on to a seat as I flew by and held on for dear life just in time to hear the brakes squeal and lock up at the next bus stop. Why was this guy in such a big hurry? Was he late for his afternoon siesta? I later found out that the bus drivers get paid according to how many passengers they get on their bus during their shift. After several more stops and with my hands cramped up from clutching the sides of my seat, I got off the bus at a stop across the street from the store.
After leaving the store, it was time to get back on the public transportation death machine and make our way back to our condo. By the time we got back to the bus stop, the streets were getting quite busy and I was starting to wonder how we would get all this food back with the buses being so full. But when the next bus stopped, a wave of people engulfed us and we were pushed up into the bus. I opted to stand in the rear stairwell as there was a steel pole that looked sturdy enough to hang onto. The bus was getting so full now that nobody even seemed to notice the two boys who were sitting on top of the dashboard in the bus’ front window. We made our way back down the street while a man stood in the aisle playing his guitar at the same fevered pace as the bus moved. I’ll never know how he kept on his feet as the bus slammed to a halt at each stop.
I saw our resort coming up fast as we continued to careen down the street almost out of control. I pulled the cord and the bus screeched to a halt. We quickly jumped off the bus just in time to see it tear off down the street again, frantic to fill the empty spaces we had left. Boy, were we glad to be back!
So, the next time I’m in Mexico will I resort to the chauffeur-driven minivans from the resort? Not on your life! This was a great adventure during my stay. The chance to travel with the Mexican people is an experience that no amount of sandy beaches or pina coladas could ever replace in my memories.