Title: The way to get around
Location: Guadalajara, Mexico
Saludos de Mexico todos!
I have been enjoying the days I volunteer at the orphanage. Everybody there is so nice and I love those kids. They are all so sweet. I took mom when she came to visit. She wanted to take all of the kids home with her. : ) I don’t blame her.
Learning Spanish has been very beneficial, but due to the learning curb not being as steep as when I first got here, it is harder to stay motivated and keep studying. I have been here for 3 months now. However, I've reached a point where I understand pretty much everything that is spoken to me, so I don't have much more to learn as far as comprehension is concerned. The area where I need to improve the most is in my speaking ability, and I believe that will improve not by studying more, but by just talking more. I met Rosita, a 16 year old that seems to be sweet, very outgoing and outspoken. I need to put more effort into spending time with her, and I know that very soon, I’ll have good results.
I have been able to do a little bit of traveling using Guadalajara as my home base. It is very convenient since most towns in Mexico have a camionera central. This a bus station where buses entering and leaving town stop to pick up passengers. In addition, towns located on a highway have a bus stop on the highway where first-class buses can stop without wasting time going into town. The first-class buses are descent. They serve meals and play a movie for the ride. It would be better if they didn’t play a movie, it is usually pretty bad, usually a lot of violence. Some of the buses let vendors sell cookies, chips, fresh fruit and all kinds of stuff. I really like it. I wish we could get food this good in our buses. : ) The vendors ride the circuit, selling their goods to passengers on one bus, then hopping off and taking a bus in the opposite direction back into town.
I have gotten use to taking buses everywhere. I prefer buses to driving because I can pay attention to what is going instead of the road.
Many Mexicans do own cars, my Spanish language instructor Juan owns a car. He says it is very expensive for him to use it all the time. Also there are too many cars and they are bad for the environment. In Mexico City, the traffic and pollution are so heavy that the government established a law that prevents all drivers from driving on one day of the week, which is determined by their license plate number. The wealthy, however, are able to circumvent this law by owning multiple vehicles, so that they always have at least one that they can legally drive.
Based on my experiences here, I wish more cities in the USA would improve their mass transit systems. Not only is travel here cheaper than in the United States. Here in Guadalajara, buses are my primary means of transportation. The bus system here is very efficient, although I had to adjust to the lack of a timed schedule and clearly mapped routes. Buses are so popular here that there honestly isn't any need for a timetable. Each route has so many buses on it that for most routes, a bus passes each stop at least once every ten minutes. In addition, in many cases, more than one route leads to wherever I'm going, so if a bus for one route doesn't pass, then a bus from another route probably will. When I first arrived in Guadalajara, I was determined to find a bus guide and make a comprehensive map of all the bus routes. When I finally purchased a bus guide after close to a week of searching, I was disappointed to find that the maps didn't list specific streets and that some of the routes were not listed correctly. Now I've learned that a more effective way of learning the bus system is to learn where main roads and places are throughout the city. The windshield of each bus lists the main roads that it goes on and places where it stops, so if I know where those places and roads are, I can figure out where the bus goes without consulting a map.