Monday, 15 April 2013

More reflection on the Merida trip - transportation

Merida, and probably Mexico in general, is a study in contrasts. Transportation systems are a case in point. To get around Merida and getting to and from Merida there were a variety of options. Some, like the buses to and from Cancun (that Mum and Dad took) and that we took to Campeche, Chichen Itza and Progreso, are modern and with all the "mod cons".
Bus to Progreso from the AutoProgreso bus station
That having been said, almost all of them have cracked windshields.
In town it was easy to get a taxi (except of course on our last day!) even on our street. The cheapest for short trips are the ones that are metered and say "Metro" on the roof. However even the non metered ones, that hang out at the taxi stands at the bus station or in the squares are not expensive.
The urban buses are also frequent and regular. Our street was on a bus route.
Our bus, that would take us from the house to downtown or to Walmart. 49 Petronilia was the route.
George and Dad accidentally got on one that was 69 (otherwise looked the same) and ended up in
some part of Merida they had never seen and had to take a taxi home.
Every 10 minutes, or so, a bus would come by that we could flag down. In between there would also be collectivos, mini vans that did the same route and could take about 12 passengers. Buses and collectivos were the same price 6M$.
When you get on the bus, and pay, the driver gives you the thinnest paper ticket you can imagine. If an inspector gets on the bus you have to be able to show that you paid.
Each of the buses had a variation of this coin holder. This one is actually quite smart looking. Some of them were made of wood, some lined with bits of fabric, some divided by cardboard. Each driver seemed to have his own system for preparing change ready to give out. They would sort these coin organisers while driving, with one hand on the wheel and glancing between the road and the coins. A little off putting when the traffic was heavy.
There were plenty of cars on the roads, all makes and models. Plenty of new and lots of old. The sun is very hard on paint jobs so I think the cars there look old before their time if they are not protected from the sun. The original VW bug was by far the most frequently seen.

In the suburbs and the villages and towns outside of Merida some of the transportation was a little more primitive though only once did we see a donkey cart. Bicycle taxis and bicycle food carts were very common.
These bicycle food carts would pedal along the roads ringing a little bicycle bell constantly
(remember the ice cream vans). They would sell fruit, juices, candies, ice cream and some
would sell services - knife sharpening, water delivery.
A bicycle taxi would look like this food cart but the front would, instead, be a bench seat with a shade cover. The slightly more sophisticated ones were propelled by a scooter or motorcycle.

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