Unexpected Luxury of Bus Travel

One of the things I love about exploring new places is finding the unexpected.

Let’s take this past Tuesday. I had all intentions of getting some work done. But, on Monday evening, my landlady, Vivianne, asked me if I would like a ride to Guadalajara. She had some errands to do and could drop me off downtown.

My iPhone didn’t seem to be holding a battery charge, and after learning online that changing the battery was no simple matter, I had asked her if she knew anyone in our area who could do it. She said that the best place to do it was in Guadalajara.

Right downtown, there is a technology building – five floors of small shops and repair centers. It’s sort of like the jewelers building in downtown Boston, but only for phones and computers.

Vivianne dropped me off across the street, and while I decided to give my phone a little more time before replacing the battery, I got quotes from 180 to 250 Pesos (US$13-$18.50). Given that the battery bought online was between US$10-$12, that wasn’t too bad.

But this post isn’t about my day in Guadalajara. I know I’ll go back because there’s so much to do there, and I’ll write about it at another time. I spent about 3 hours walking around downtown, peeking in the Cathedral, and several other sites. I them meandered through a series of pedestrian-only shopping streets and plazas to the Mercado Libertad, a gigantic 3-floor indoor market that sprawls over a city block.

After a hearty lunch of goat stew, I decided to try to find the bus station. I thought it would be a good place for Vivianne to pick me up. After a few wrong turns, I exhaustedly got there around 2:15.

It was 50 centavos to enter the station – sort of a cover charge to get in. I’ve paid to use public bathrooms, even on Cape Cod. But, this was something new.

Vivianne had run into a few snags trying to complete her errands and would need another 2 hours. Well, I wasn’t going to hang out in a bus station and was too tired to continue my exploration. So, I bought a ticket a ticket for the 3:00 pm bus to Ajijic.

The bus (in the picture above) wasn’t your regular commuter bus. The seats and leg room were spacious. As I sat wearily down in my seat, I was struck with something I’d never seen before.

There was something that looked like a fold-down ironing board attached to the seat in front of me. Upon checking it out, I discovered that is was a leg rest. When this contraption was extended, it turned your humble bus seat, with the seat-back all the way down, into what could almost be described as a day-bed. What luxury for my tired bones and the hour trip home.

Now, I haven’t been on an intercity bus in a long time, yet alone commuter busses. But I’m pretty you won’t find this foot rest on any U.S. busses. There’s not enough leg room.

Any time you visit a foreign country there are always things that make you scratch you head, and ask yourself why they do things the way they do. This was one of those pleasant surprises.

I smiled all the way back to Ajijic 🙂

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