All roads lead to Rome–unless

–unless you live in Mazatlán; then they lead to Centro or, more accurately, to the Mercado in Centro and by roads I mean bus routes (well, nearly all routes). Just so we’re clear, there are a number of mercados, or markets, in Maz but there’s only one Mercado–El Mercado Municipal José María Pino Suárez–simply “Mercado”.

1. First–if you want to get to Centro, just look for any bus with “Mercado” written on the windshield; it’s sure to get you to Centro. If uncertain, ask the driver but that can be a bit tricky if your command of Spanish is poor. Warning: on one occasion the driver confirmed he was going to Centro but in fact he had just left Centro, proceeded to the far end of his route, turned around–and then–went to Centro. Technically correct I suppose but on the whole I found the experience disappointing.

2. Next–which bus do you want? Visitors usually want the “Green” bus. Green buses are more in-tune with Gringo needs because they go to areas like the Golden Zone, which are apt to be more Gringo infested. Not surprisingly, Green buses are painted green (except for some of those that aren’t).

I admire the daring of visitors on one-week packages wandering around Centro, venturing out to sample local transportation. So when I find myself giving guidance to a bewildered tourist, I feel like a local, a real Mazatleco, as I tell them to wait for the Green bus. Then I go on to clarify it might not be green.

3. OK, you need the bus to stop. The good news is you can flag down a bus anywhere along a street; no bus stop needed, except in certain circumstances. Those exceptions are beyond the scope of this article so let’s just hope you’re not in some no-man’s-land where buses never stop.

Generally if a bus zooms by, ignoring your plea to stop, there’s a simple reason–it’s because the driver doesn’t feel like stopping. Be careful here–as a non-Mexican you may believe you’re a victim of discrimination. Fear not, drivers ignore Mexicans with equal abandon. Maybe it’s the end of his shift or, if it’s mid-afternoon, maybe he has an extracurricular, hot date he’s rushing to.

4. A word about safety: some visitors complain about drivers not following safety rules even though signs are posted right in the bus saying no speeding and the driver can’t use cell phones. If he seems to be ignoring the signs, it’s hardly the driver’s fault; look at where those notices are posted. They’re over his head or sometimes behind him i.e. not in his field of view. How do you expect him to safely watch the road and read the signs at the same time? However, I draw the line at a driver using two phones, one for each ear, while manipulating the wheel with elbows, knees, and a prayer–that can’t be safe.

As to speeding; racing is the norm because Maz traffic is congested so they have to make it up on the straightaways. Just keep in mind, speeding gets you home faster. It’s when they’re going under the speed limit–that’s dangerous–Lynn and I become nervous and suspect drug impairment.

5. Fares vary according to the type of bus as well as who you are and some drivers even have flexible payment plans. Not long ago I observed a pretty girl with an ice-cream cone get on; after a brief tête-à-tête with the driver she let him lick her cone and this spontaneous act of generosity appeared to be it for payment. For the rest of us, most buses charge 8 1/2 pesos except those that charge more–no transfers.

As published in Mazatlán’s Pacific Pearl December 2018; Vol 26, #4

7 comments on “Five Really Good Tips About Buses

    • Thanks – several people have made the comment about a book and I am looking to see if I have enough material over the years.

  • Funny how similar this is to Phnom Penh! You could quite easily exchange Mazatlán for Phnom Penh and Centro for Central Market and the rest would be unchanged! How I miss life in Maz and the quirky, nice people who “infest” it’s shores. I crave a “real” Margarita in a secret garden with good friends! Thank you for the article! I love your writing!

  • Funny article. So true, you feel lucky if you catch a bus and get to your destination. I guess it is important to carry an ice cream cone.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *