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Mexican Buses—A Pleasant Surprise

Mexican Buses—A Pleasant Surprise


Traveling by bus in rural Mexico can still be rough going, but intercity buses are some of the nicest I’ve ever seen.

You can get anywhere on Mexican buses--and many of them are world-class comfortable!

You can get anywhere on Mexican buses--and many of them are world-class comfortable!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

If you have yet to travel on a First Class Mexican bus, you have a real treat in store.

I’ve put in a lot of bus time.  In the early 1990’s I traveled overland from the Arctic Ocean in Canada to the Panamanian border, mostly by bus.  And while making for good stories, most of the buses were awful.

In the states, Greyhound was a disaster.  I traveled across country—twice—on that line, and the good price wasn’t worth the discomfort.  Dirty, cramped, scratched windows—I hope they have changed since.

Not learning from that experience, I traveled through Mexico and Central America on third class “chicken buses”—equally uncomfortable and in dangerously poor repair, these buses are nevertheless the best way to meet the people and travel to tiny, out-of-the-way towns.

But for comfort and efficiency on inter-city runs, nothing beats the first class Mexican bus.

I’m most familiar with the line ETN, which serves the central part of the country and has just recently expanded into the northeast, but there are other good lines in different parts of the country.

Before you board an ETN bus your checked luggage is loaded and you are given a snack to carry aboard.  A few years back this would consist of a croissant sandwich, yogurt, fruit, cookies, and a drink.  Unfortunately, as prices have gone up, the snack has shrunk.  Still, it is nice to get a sandwich and a choice of soda or bottled water.

As the trip is about to begin a stewardess enters the cabin, welcomes you aboard, and explains the features of the bus.  “If you need anything, just knock on the door.”  The driver sits in an enclosed cockpit, like in a plane.

The seats are arranged two on the left and one on the right.  It is an incredible luxury for single travelers on overnight runs to have a single seat.  No more snoring strangers hogging half your space.

The seats recline to nearly horizontal, and footrests extend to allow a good stretch.  I’m six feet, and I can sleep comfortably in one of the seats if I bend my knees a little.

At the back of the bus, to one side of the clean bathroom, is a small “cafeteria” with hot and cold water, cups, and ingredients to make coffee, tea, or hot chocolate.

As the trip begins, monitors descend from the ceiling, and a recent movie unspools.

Other nice details—a clock that also gives the inside and outside temperature, free headphones and several tracks of audio in the armrests, and curtains on the windows.

The price difference between first class bus travel and second class can be notable.  The seven-hour ride from Guadalajara to Mexico City is about $55 first class, $40 second class—a difference of  $30 on a round trip.  But the comfort and convenience of a first class bus, especially if you are traveling on an overnight run, is worth it’s weight in Aztec gold.

Dan and Omar

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Categories

A sample text widget

Etiam pulvinar consectetur dolor sed malesuada. Ut convallis euismod dolor nec pretium. Nunc ut tristique massa.

Nam sodales mi vitae dolor ullamcorper et vulputate enim accumsan. Morbi orci magna, tincidunt vitae molestie nec, molestie at mi. Nulla nulla lorem, suscipit in posuere in, interdum non magna.