Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Vacationing In Mexico By Plane And Bus

The snow covered distant peaks here, are dwarfed in comparison
to those we were on in our bus trip between Mexicali and Tijuana, Mexico
I have not used mass transit since the early 1950s. Once back in 1979, my family and I did fly to Mexico City for a vacation and to visit my husband's family who lived there. We decided to visit Acapulco while we were that far into Mexico. As we had not made reservations for air, we opted to ride a bus for the trip. That was uneventful, and rather pleasant, as a matter of fact. when we returned to Mexico City, that too was a pleasant experience. 

We decided not to use LAX as the airport from which to fly from, as there are just too many people, and it is too far to really walk, from where we would have to park our car for the time we would be away, and to the terminal to catch our flight.  We lived only about a hundred miles north of the Mexican Border, and the airport there is so much smaller, with parking in an area where would pay a man to care for our vehicle until we returned.  It was  also much cheaper flying out of Tijuana.

Our first problem came when we got stuck in traffic at the US/Mexican Border crossing to enter Tijuana, as there were so many people heading into Mexico, that it took longer than we anticipated.  When we finally reached the airport, it was almost time to take off, and we still had to check in and go through Mexican Customs.  That was just plain maddening, as they were just sure we would be carrying something which they could charge us for, or to confiscate.  We had only brought along a few small items for gifts for the children in the extended family, which were totally legal.  They kept trying to make us think we had to pay for this and that, which we just refused to do.  We were about five minutes from scheduled takeoff time, when the pilot himself, saw what the Customs people were up to.  He actually, came to our rescue, and ran with us all the way to the plane.

If those people had even thought to look in the bag I was carrying, we would probably still be there, with them thinking I was importing drugs of all kinds.  I actually was carrying about twenty bottles of various herbs, and natural vitamins, but I doubt the labels would have  stopped them.

We had been in Mexico City for more than a month, when we decided take a side trip to Acapulco.  Since we had not made reservations to go to Acapulco, we decided to take the bus there.  That trip was uneventful, as was the bus ride back to Mexico City.  We were able to see so much wonderful scenery, so, we decided that when we were to return home, we would like to take the bus also on our way back to Tijuana.  From there, we could pick up our car which we had left at the Tijuiana airport. 

The bus trip from Mexico City to Tijuana was to take three days and three nights, stopping only for food along the way. On the second night on the road, the mother of a very small child, disposed of a disposable diaper in the busses toilet, which promptly disabled the toilet for the remainder of the trip. The driver did his best to accommodate his passengers, stopping at least two more time during the daytime hours, and once more at night.

Needless to say, the bus also began to show telltale signs that the problem was only getting worse, with the reeking aroma of sewage wafting through the bus. Even open windows did not help as much as was needed. My husband began feeling ill and his innards were not happy, either. He was desperate to get to the nearest restroom. The driver finally stopped at a small, "one horse village," so anyone needing to use the facilities could get some relief. My husband, along with a few other passengers disembarked, and walked down the unlit dirt roads, looking for the nearest restroom. Passengers were told we would be here for only fifteen minutes.   After about fifteen minutes, the driver cranked up the engine, and several of the passengers who had gotten off the bus, were returning, all except for my husband, that is. I looked hard into the night, straining to see if he was someplace within earshot of the noise of the busses diesel engine rumbling, only to see absolutely nothing.

Just as the driver began a very slow creeping takeoff, there came my other half, hurrying his way back to the bus. He scrambled aboard, found his seat, and we finally got on our way again. Except for many unhappy people, all glaring as the unthinking woman who had caused our bathroom trouble, the remaining miles were uneventful.

I actually enjoyed the bus trip, taking in as much scenery as possible. There was one more, long lasting,  hair-raising event between Mexicali, and Tijuana.  That was one very long section of road which winds through many miles of mountains called, "Los Rumarosas." I usually love driving or riding mountain roads, but this was a whole new experience, one that I don't think I would ever want to do again. This road is barely wide enough to allow one vehicle pass another, in opposite directions, let alone, busses the size of a Greyhound. The bus we rode was Mexico's version of Greyhound, and was called, "Tres Estreas de Oro" (Three Gold Stars). These busses were rather nice, and a huge step from the city busses one sees in most towns in Mexico. I was very impressed with the driver and his professional driving ability. He took no unnecessary chances, nor did he drive at all recklessly. 

Back to the mountain road: All the way through this mountain range, thousands of feet high, one could see the rusting remains of cars, pickup trucks, eighteen wheelers, and yes, even a few busses that had probably miscalculated the road space, or had lost control on icy, or snow-covered roads, and gone over the side, nose first. The vehicles, were usually hundreds of feet below the road, and these were the kinds of wrecks, from which no one survives. This road was paved, but it was just so very narrow, and had few if any guardrails, which would not have been strong enough to prevent huge trucks or busses from going over anyway. All along this road, were hundreds of crosses, with flowers, where someone or many people had lost their lives. 

When we finally arrived at the bus terminal in Tijuana, everyone thanked the drivers for their getting the safely to our destination. Everyone went their separate ways, and we got our bags, hailed a taxi, and headed for the Tijuana Airport, to claim our car, get something to eat, and head home, to Orange County, California.

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