Wednesday, December 01, 2010

At the north bus staion

November 30, 8:40am

We just got on the Piramides bus for San Juan Tenotichlan (one every 10 minutes). The north bus terminal is HUGE, with upwards of a hundred different bus line companies. The building is in the shape of a large pyramid, with glass letting in light, making for an airy atmosphere. It was might brighter and spacious than any bus station that I had ever been in, definitely putting the bus stations in the US to shame.

Thse ticket to go to San Juan Tenotichlan (supposedly 1 hour) was 26 pesos; perhaps speaking to the drawing power of the pyramids.

Our trip to the station was, as Rays commented, an Odyssey. We left the hotel (thanks to, no need for a lengthy check-out) and I suggested walking to the Reforma metrobus station: closer to our hotel, but with a need to cross the massive Reforma Avenue and then make our way to the not-as-massive Insurgentes Avenue, all while dodging the morning rush hour police-guided traffic as well as the many pedestriand coming out of the metro station... Each of us with large bags (me with a large backpacker's bag and Rafys with a large rolling bag). I had thought that a trip straight along Avenida Insurgentes would get us to the bus station.

I was wrong. We would have to get off at La Raza and take the metro to the bus station. On the positive side, we were going against the flow of traffic, and so the metrobus was almost empty, and we watched each city-bound bus, already packed with people, stop to try and accept even more. A part of me wondered when the city government would start making the buses and stations double-deckers.

When we got down to the metro (after climbing up and over the metrobus lanes and the adjoining streets - Mexico City is a terrible place for the physically handicapped to take public transportation) I saw a mustard yellow sign pointing to Indios Verdes station, which I recognized as being on the way north.

As we walked down to the platform, I saw a sign labeling a transfer tunnel as 'tunel de la ciencia', and I told Rafys that I really liked that sign. Then we walked to the empty, north-bound platform and got onto a similarly sparse train car. Once onboard, however, Rafys noticed that none of the three remaining station names matched what we needed. A quick look ayt the metro network map confirmed -  as the doors closed - that we were on the wrong line; that we needed to take the yellow line, not the brown-mustard-yellow line. We would have to take the metro back one station and make our transfer... and then Rafys reminded me, "It's the crowded one."

Small blessing: the station platform on the next station was a shared one for north ans sout-bound trains, and so we only had to cross the platform and wait with the ever-growing crowd of morning commuters. I had - since we had gotten off the metrobus - taken charge of both large bags, since the metro stations were as replete with stairs as they were with a dearth of escalators.

After a false alarm of a completely empty meto train pulling slowly through the station, raising our hopes, the real train, already full of people, pulled in. rafys balked a little, suggesting that we take the next one, but my Tokyo and Taipei upbringing told me that each train would likely be like this for the foreseeable future and that there is always room to squeeze in, even if the people in the train don't like it (they are, afterall used to doing this every workday). Therefore, i said that we had to take this train, and pushed my way on (with my large blue backpack and Rafys' large rolling bag) while Rafys pushed into the crowd at the next door.

The position pressed up against the door I just entered by was tight and uncomfortable, but as I braced myself against the movement of the train, I consoled myself that it was only one stop. However, as we pulled into the station, I remembered that the platform at La Raza was on the other side of this packed train.

As we pulled in, I took advantage of the egress of a few other passenges and started surging toward the doors, loudly repeating, "permiso!" While pulling along Rafys' bag, heedless of the legs that it caught and knocked against; I would be getting off, and I would do it before the waiting commuters started getting on. I burst from the crowd, suddenly meeting no resistance, glanced off a man leaving the platform, and waited with Rafys (who had also managed to extricate herself from the crowded commuter train) for the platform to clear a little before making our way back to the 'tunel de la ciencia' in order to get to the yellow line, and the bus station.

The 'tunel' was lined with many back-lit photographs of Mexico's natural lanscapes, each with a brief description. Then the tunel's lighting changed to black light as we wlked under constellation maps on the ceiling, and then past more photos of Mexico's various cultural heritages. This was the 'cienia' of the tujnnel.

We did get on the right train, and got off at the right station, and entered the massive edifice. I sat and waited for Rafys to find the right bus company (something easier for her to do without a massive, hulking gringo behind her). She came to collect me, and luckily we were on the correct side of the station, and she got out tickets.

It's now 9:38am, and we just pulled into San Juan. The estimat of 1 hour given by the Lonely Planet was right!

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