Do bus drivers take bathroom breaks?

29 Jun

June 25, 2011

The answer is yes. Mexican bus drivers take bathroom breaks. And they take lunch breaks. And water breaks.
All while there are passengers still on the bus.
Mexican bus drivers are very capricious people you see. If nature calls, or they see an appetizing street food stand vending a dubious (but delicious) meat/cheese/bean combo, they will grab a handful of the pesos that the passengers paid and hop off to grab a little snack.
The bus drivers are equally capricious about when and where they will (or won’t) stop. Although there are ‘designated’ bus stops in the streets of Merida, as far as I can tell, they mean absolutely nothing.
Instead, people just stand on the curb and flag down the bus, using it like a giant, hot, smelly taxi service.
I have seen a bus driver stop for two different people who are literally 50 feet away from each other, and have been waiting at a REAL bus stop and had the bus driver just blow on past me.
Getting off the bus is just as risky as getting on. When you’re ready to get off, you just stand up and, if you’re lucky, the bus driver will pull over and you can jump off. Actually, you have to tuck-and-roll, because as soon as one foot hits the pavement, the bus is already in motion.
I saw a lady fall off the bus one time, I think because the bus driver started going before she could get all the way off.
My friends and family were worried about me going to Mexico this summer, and I assured them that the Yucatan is probably safer than most of the U.S.
That was before I encountered the public transportation system here.
I don’t think that the buses have to follow the same traffic suggestions as everyone else here. They barrel down the middle of the streets, and start honking at any poor car that is trying to drive on its designated side of the street.
I think the bus drivers have that gene defect where they can’t differentiate between green and red, because red lights apparently mean “Go, and go fast.”
As easy as it is to hate on the bus drivers, they do work hard, day in and day out, driving the same loops around the city stuck in the same bus.
To counteract this monotony, a lot of the bus drivers have decorated the insides of their vehicles. I’ve seen a lot of different decorations, and think there are a few common categories of bus drivers:
The Hail-Mary Bus Driver: His bus is literally a shrine to the Virgin Mary. You have a little serene, Caucasian statuette mounted near the ceiling in the front, with a rosary hanging from her supplicating hands, and a few crucifix stickers posted on the walls. My theory: This bus driver has taken at least one life because of his driving and is in a constant state of atonement. (The subset of this category is The Praise-Jesus Bus Driver. I saw one of the most realistic Jesus statues of my life in his bus.)
The American Stereotypes Bus Driver: Since most Americans enjoy Playboy and the Simpsons, this bus driver is demonstrating his advanced knowledge of American culture with decor that reflects these American icons, like Playboy Bunny and Bart Simpson stickers.
The “I Just Want to Party” Bus Driver: Because, well, who DOESN’T want to ride around in a discoteca at 2 in the afternoon? This bus driver is an amateur electrician, and has mounted a border of glowing neon lights around the interior windshield. He hasn’t figured out how to mount the strobe yet. Unfortunately, his sound system isn’t advanced enough to keep up with his lighting- his only option is to play the slightly mournful Mexican banda music instead of the thumping bass that I’m sure he would prefer.

I have been in Merida for a month, and I think that a solid week has been spent riding the bus. If you have a car, please don’t take that fact for granted. And hopefully I’ve given you some inspiration for some very groovy decor for it.

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