We felt pretty savvy as we disembarked from the bus and headed down to the “Malecon,” or beach boardwalk here in PV. We’d successfully figured out how much the bus fare was going to be, found the right bus, made change and made it downtown. I saw the little taco stand that the owner of our condo recommended, and even better, located the gelato place she likes. We’d seen the sunset (too many clouds to be perfect, but complaining about that after spending a half hour sitting above the crashing Pacific waves watching the sun go down and listening to live music in the square seems kinda petty.) We’d decided to return here tomorrow to spend a day at Playa Los Muertos, the popular beach here in PV, and wander up and down the boardwalk, now that we are more familiar with the area.
But because I wasn’t familiar with the area, we didn’t stay too long this evening. I wanted to get back before it was too dark. We were directed to the northbound bus stop by a helpful policeman, and made our way there successfully.
(Aside: many of my friends voiced concern over The Missy and I traveling to Mexico alone. What I heard before we came here is that cities like PV, where they are dependent on the tourist trade, are VERY security conscious, increasing the presence of the military and police and being very careful to ensure the safety of their tourists. I can attest to the increased presence of military and police–they were everywhere. Unfortunately, men in military garb wielding machine guns does not translate to “safety” in our American minds, in fact it is quite disconcerting. But thus far I have had nothing but positive interactions with everyone I have met, except, perhaps, for the pain-in-the-ass timeshare people that accost you everywhere.)
So we decided to head back to the hotel. We found the right bus, boarded it, and (prematurely it turns out) congratulated ourselves on how awesomely cool we were to be riding Mexican bus with real Mexicans(!) and even a big, gruesome crucifix hanging in the front. A man with a guitar boarded at one point and serenaded the riders. You just aren’t going to experience that on a US bus. Enroute we passed enough VW Bugs that I decided this must be where VW Bugs go to die, and I was happily composing this very blog post when I realized we had missed our stop.
The Missy looked at me. I looked at The Missy. Part of the problem was that we had no idea how to make the bus stop. There wasn’t a pullcord or anything that intuitive.
“That’s okay,” we told each other, “it’s a circular route, it has to come back around to our hotel, right?”
Wrong. In fact we ended up I don’t know where on some dark back road, heading I don’t know where, unable to stop the bus because we didn’t know how and unsure if we wanted to anyway. What would we do, get out on some strange road in the dark? Surely the bus would have to go back to where we started from, and we could ride it all the way back around to the stop we had missed in the first place, right?
At some point Mr. Bus Driver realized we were going the wrong way. Or maybe he just got tired of us sitting on his bus. He stopped in the middle of the dark, deserted road we were on, looked back at us and said something incomprehensible in Spanish. It took me a minute to translate, but I am sure it was something like, “What the hell are you still doing on my bus?”
“Holiday Inn?” I said sheepishly.
“No!” he said. “You have to get off right now, you stupid Americans!”
Okay, maybe he didn’t say that exactly, but he did tell us we had to get off, right there, right then. And wait for another bus to come along that would take us where we needed to go. I think he was doing us a favor, and not letting us ride clear to Guadalajara or some such place, but at that moment, alone with my 17 year old daughter on a dark back road, with no idea if I was really understanding what he was telling us, well, it seemed pretty harsh to me.
“What does it say in the window?” I asked, trying to be sure that we got on the right bus (who knows how many buses might traverse this section of almost-unpaved, deserted road at 10pm, and where we might end up if we got on the wrong one?)
“Blue,” he said, clearly trying to get us to get off the bus so he could continue. He had a schedule to keep, after all.
“Blue?” I asked, incredulous. “It says BLUE?”
“No,” he snapped. He pointed across the road. “Wait here for blue bus.”
“In the dark?” I asked, starting to panic as I realize he really was kicking us off his bus.
“Yes! Go! Wait!”
There was no help for it. I took Missy’s hand and we stepped off the bus and watched it drive off, leaving us alone in the road. A back road, with no streetlights, and no nice military men with machine guns, and no one that spoke English.
There was, however, a “delicioso hamburguesas” stand across the street, which consisted of a folding table with a smokey joe and several men sitting around on plastic chairs.
“Want a Delicious Hamburger?” I asked The Missy.
“No,” she said. “Not really.” She just wanted to get on the right home bus, I think.
But she is a trouper, and less than a half hour later, we were on another bus, laughing to each other and sighing in relief. “Walmart?” I had asked, when the door opened. “Holiday Inn?” The driver had nodded. The sign in his window said as much, but I wanted him to know where we were headed in case we missed the stop again.
And then, twenty minutes after that, we were home, safe and sound, another Mexican adventure under our belts.
I am sure there are many more to come!