Tuesday, March 25, 2014

ride the bus

I woke up this morning with a mission; to pick up a rental car in Mérida.

Sounds simple enough, but anyone who has taken a bus in a foreign country knows this involves going where you not only have never been before, but also going to places you're not sure if you'll know when you stumble upon them. I took a camión (small bus/van), got off, walked 2 blocks, bought a ticket, stood in line, got on a bus, watched and watched to make sure we didn't pass my stop, asked the bus driver to help me out, got off the bus, walked 2 blocks, and voila, I was at Avis Fiesta Americana.

Fiesta Americana, Merida

I forgot how much I get out of riding the bus. I'd say I enjoy it, but it's a bit hampered by my ridiculously strong motion sickness. But if that's under control, riding the local bus is a wonderful experience. We're all just on the bus, sitting, or standing, and sweating. And I'm snapping as many pictures as I can. Clearly fulfilling my role as tourist extraordinaire.

Riding the bus in the Yucatán involves making friends. While the woman who sat next to me in the camión only smiled, the man I sat next to all the way down to Mérida was a lot more talkative. He was soo enthusiastic about fishing for pepino (sea cucumbers), he showed me video after video on his cell phone of him on a fishing boat.

I arrived at the strip of car rental companies and realized I didn't bring my passport and drivers license with me (they're locked away safely in my luggage). Oh no!!! But, then I remembered I had taken photos of each and saved them on my iPhone camera roll. I showed the Avis rental agent my photos, but she wanted paper copies. No problem, I thought. I'll just find a place to print them out from my phone.

This turned out to be slightly easier said than done. The closest business with a business center was the Wal-Mart across the street. While I entered Wal-Mart and immediately felt relieved to hit some air conditioning, I felt really strange. I may as well have been in any Wal-Mart. The consistency of certain chain stores is really quite astonishing. The Wal-Mart photo counter didn't have an iPhone USB plug and didn't have internet (for me to email the photos directly to them). I was out of luck. I asked the counter agent where the closest ciber (internet cafe) was. Perhaps this type of internet/computer place could help me. I was quickly directed to a place somewhere across the street.

When I entered the convenience store/copy place, I wasn't hopeful. But the girl covering for the normal clerk told me she would help me; her computer had an internet connection. I just signed into my Evernote account (where I had saved copies of my IDs) and printed them out. 10 pesos later, we were in business. Technology saved me yet again. 

Although, when I went back to pick up the rental car, their system was down. I had to wait several hours before being able to pre-pay and get the actual car. Technology had caused me delays yet again.

I hit the road in my little Chevy Aveo. I stopped at some ruins for some photos and chatted with a few Americans (they wanted some translation regarding rules for swimming in the cenotes). On the way out of the ruins, I passed three young boys walking and hitchhiking along the road. Thinking about my transition from bus rider to car driver, I thought about picking up the guys. I definitely thought about it. But in the end, I drove past the boys, on to Progreso, and ended up driving the long way home along the coast.

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