Friday, January 23, 2009

On the Road Again

Thursday, my internal travel alarm clock went off; and I said to myself, "Self, time to leave Mazatlan." I get itchy feet, you know. A hankering to move on down the road. After a week and a half in Mazatlan, that's exactly what I did. Took the bus up to Tepic, the capital of Nayarit state (see tourist review below).

It was a 4-hour bus ride going up into the mountains, leaving the shores of the Pacific. The scenery, as it slid by the bus windows, got greener and greener--well ordered rows of fruit orchards and sugar cane fields. One of the biggest sugar mills in Mexico is on the road going into Tepic, belching out pillows of white smoke with waiting trucks backed up before the crusher, loaded to overflowing with stalks of cane.

The bus ride was--well--colorful. Normally I like first-class bus travel in Mexico quite a lot. The laziness of doing nothing and have a beautiful scenic panorama constantly unfolding before your eyes. The bus line, named "Elite" gave a whole new meaning to that word. Elite has gone low-rent! If that was "elite," then I'm Warren Buffet. The disappointment started with a 40-minute tardy departure. The bus driver had gone out to lunch, and we wouldn't leave Tepic until he decided to finish his midday repast. What's the hurry? A bus schedule? What's that?

First class service is determined by the existence of a toilet onboard. Second gotta hold it. So this one HAD a toilet, but the most foul sewer you can imagine. No toilet seat, just a hole. Think outhouse in the heat of August. And don't forget the sticky floors as you go up and down the bus aisle.

The bus was a continuation of service that started in Tijuana, so I can cut them a little slack. But it was sorely in need of a good cleaning crew. My co-passengers were picaresque, as well. The 20-something guy across from me had long purple hair (no, not natural), streaked with orange. A kind of improvised dreadlocks which hadn't been washed since....oh, I'm guessing, last spring. But he was totally comfortable. He kicked the seat back to the full-recline position and fell fast asleep, his teeshirt riding up to display his ample belly. ALERT: Whale season in Mexico!

His buddy in the next seat up disrobed. He pulled down his old laundry sack from the overhead rack, took out a handful of wrinkled shirts, and did the "sniff test" on the armpits of each. Selecting the least noxious, he proceeded to take of his current shirt and switch it for shirt #2. But it could have been worse: try to imagine if he was doing a downstairs renovation instead of upstairs. On the other hand, don't try to imagine that.