Bus Riding Lakeside
By Queen D. Michele
I can walk most places I need to go in my small town. I’m nuzzled in between two other towns and I could walk to either one of them as well. However, if I need to go into those towns it’s usually a 15 minute bus ride in either direction. There are two types of buses that come down the main road, called the Carretera.
One stays on the main road that connects all the towns along the north shore of the lake. The other turns off the main road at certain junctures and travels through the neighborhoods before returning to the main road. Bus fare is inexpensive ranging from .35 to .47 US cents. I often hop on either one not caring about taking the scenic route through the neighbors, I’m usually in no hurry.
The buses that go through the neighborhoods are smaller and red or yellow in color. They tend to be more rickety than the buses that stay on the main road. The main road bus is only red. I have never waited more than 15 minutes for a bus, and there are times when I’ve walked 50 ft out of my gate and straight onto a bus. There are also times when I have been passed up because the bus is too crowded. Being passed up is a rare occasion.
I’m always amazed at how bus drivers continue to pull over and pick up even when the bus is packed. Most occasions when the bus is too crowded on the front end, bus drivers pull over and open the back door for people to load. It’s a good thing to have exact change when boarding from the back, because it’s customary to send your fare up through the hands of 10 or more people. I’ve often wondered how the bus driver knows if it was me or my fare as others who board through the back send their fare up as well.
The bus system in my area and from my perspective runs like a well-oiled machine. There are even times when entertainment is provided on bus rides. Mexicans from outlying villages along with their parents make their way into the North Shore towns early morning, and take their stations for the day.
The women mostly sit out front of stores and businesses with their children too young to venture out on their own. They may be selling anything from stitch work to vegetables or sometimes nothing at all, just a cup in hand…needing. The men and able-bodied children who entertain on bus don’t appear to pay. I assume it depends on the bus driver, some allow the entertainment on their bus, and others don’t. There are guitar players, clowns who tell funny stories (all in Spanish), singers, and bongo players.
The children (ages appox. 7-11) tend to only sing or screech depending on my proximity to them, out songs, all in Spanish as well. Recently, I stepped onto a bus during the day that was crowded with teenagers coming from school.
I was fortunate enough to grab an aisle seat as someone stood up to exit the rear as I made my way to stand in an empty space. There was a teenage girl standing and holding on to a seat, in front of me when I noticed a harem of bracelets on her wrist. They were colorful, sparkled, and varied shapes. I looked at them admiringly, then up at her. Our eyes met and I put my hand to my heart, and quickly glanced back at the bracelets then back to this young Mexican girl and smiled. Hoping my smile conveyed how much I admired her bracelets. Soon, my stop was nearing so I began to stand up.
As I put my hand on the seat in front of me to balance myself, the teenager I had locked eyes with, and smiled at gently took my hand in hers and slipped one of her bracelets onto my wrist. Before I could wrap my mind around what had just happened, the bus screeched to a stop and I had to exit hurriedly. This happened to be the stop where the bus turns into the neighborhood.
As I stepped off, I quickly looked up at the bus and into the eyes of this young teenager who had just blessed me (a total stranger) on a bus, with a bracelet off her own wrist. In the split second as the bus turned the corner, I put my hand over my heart smiled and nodded, she in turn did the same. Never was a word spoken between us. Just kindness, just love…just Mexico.
For more information about Lake Chapala visit: www.chapala.com