When the bus breaks down

This post is part of my Mexico travel series: Travel stories | Photo gallery

Tour buses reached the ruins before I did… aargh!

I packed before going to bed last night so that I could wake up early and leave without disturbing other people in my dorm. I hate to be the guy who wakes everyone up at 5am in the morning. The dawn in Merida was beautiful, a bit foggy, with birds flying around and women sweeping the streets raising a cloud of dust. I hurriedly made my way to the bus station.

Tour groups. Can I beat them?

I was headed for the Maya ruins at Uxmal, and I wanted to get there by the earliest bus I could take. The ruins open at 8am, and I had to be there at 8 so that I could be here before hordes of tourists too over (and also to feel vindicated in general).

I hopped into the second class bus, it was an interesting sight because most of the people inside looked as if they had been sleeping in the bus all night long. The bus hit the highway and soon I dozed off, just like my copassengers.

About an hour later, something woke me up. The bus had stopped moving. I thought we were at a bus station in some village. However, that wasn’t the case. We were parked on the side of a non-descript road that was cutting through rural landscape, and I could see a group of people gathered around the bus.

I was curious. From whatever Spanish I could speak, I comprehended that the bus had broken down and it would take some time to get fixed. People were getting out and chatting with the driver, probably providing valuable advice, but more likely they were simply chatting about the weather.

I got out of the bus too. Children were crying, people were pleading, we were cold, wet and hungry… no, wait, it wasn’t like that. In fact, kids were running around on the street, women, with their big sacks and bags full of stuff, were huddling together and chatting loudly. About 10 men were looking at the bus, trying to fix it I assume. It was a very ‘Mexican’ scene, nobody seemed bothered.

So I kept myself busy for about an hour, eating a banana and writing in my diary. I figured I’d just hang out since everyone else was doing the same. I also drew some pictures of the bus in my book but I won’t share that. I guess I knew I was going to be late.

After an hour, a bus appeared; and people rushed towards it madly. There was lot of shouting and lots of animated conversations. It seemed that my co passengers were determined to convince the driver of the new bus to change his route. I think he did, or maybe he didn’t, but anyway I got in because everyone else was doing the same.

I had no clue where I was going. I knew the next big town on the road was Muna, what’s the worse that could happen? So I didn’t bother asking anyone. It seems I have a thing for traveling in such mystery buses.

In fact, in the middle of this chaos, I managed to steal a nap. Now that’s called “value for money.”

The bus did stop in Muna. I got off, like many others, and the bus took off. I asked a official-looking person about the next bus to Uxmal. The guy said “diez minutos” (ten minutes).

So I figured I had 30 minutes or so.

Ticul-Muna collectivo stand (at Ticul)

It was already 8 and I was picturing the guards opening doors to the Uxmal ruins. So since it was prudent to let go of this obsession to reach Uxmal before 8, I decided to checkout the market and eat something. I got bananas, a slice of cake and a big glass of juice “jugos”. It was perfect.

I came back and the next bus arrived just as the church bell rang. I told the driver to let me off at Uxmal, and he agreed. He was picking up more people that the bus could hold. Soon the aisles were filled and then a woman got in with a big bag in one hand and a baby in the other. Remarkably, the baby was asleep, what an impressive talent. Without much conversation, she plopped the bag on my lap (I was on the aisle side) and gave the baby to the grandma sitting at the window next to me.

I smiled, I love Mexico.

Site of the Uxmal ruins

So I didn’t reach the ruins before the tour groups. Who cares, I enjoyed this experience wayy more.

This post is part of my Mexico travel series: Travel stories | Photo gallery