Public transport in Mexico is cheap and efficient. There is only one price, no matter whether you ride 100 meters or 10 km. Every corner of every street along the route is considered to be a bus stop. There are a gazillion busses, so they don’t have to actually stop at every corner and the ride usually does not take much more time than in a taxi for instance.
Before we came we were warned not to haul a taxi from the street; the danger of being kidnapped was just too big. That turned out to be fiction, at least here in Veracruz. The taxis are pretty good here, but you need to know the prices. We tend to pay more than we should (gringo tax) but in return they entertain. We have interesting conversations in Spanish about football, Veracruz and Holland. Don’t know if they actually understand what I am trying to say, but they are polite enough to make me think they do.
Once we got our stuff from Holland, we started riding our bikes. All of a sudden it is not so great that busses potentially stop at every corner; you are bound to be behind one and overtaking on the streets of Veracruz is challenging. Being on a bike means you have to have 360 degree vision to keep an eye on the other traffic, which can come from anywhere. To some, a red traffic light means that it will get green again eventually, and why wait? Furthermore, there are no white stripes to indicate the lanes and you have to navigate along a lot of barriers such as speed bumps and drains.
Speed bumps were re-invented by the Mexicans. Their reaction to a Dutch speed bump would be a scornful laugh; the roads are similarly bumpy anyway and people speed on them nicely. So they came up with other systems. Apart from potholes haphazardly placed on the road, the most popular speed bump in Veracruz are large round, metal pins, sort of like mega push-pins, across the width of the road. They may leave one out for (motor)bikes, but more often they don’t. And that makes them hard to navigate. You don’t want to go over them, but there is only just enough space to go in between. The cute basket on the handlebars of my bike had to go.
Drains are super dangerous while biking. The first time I approached one, I actually thought it was a place to park your bike, although the location was a little odd. Since then I crossed many different types, all hazardous in different ways. Some you can drive over or around, and some you cannot. And what is the point in that?
Biking here is doable, as long as you are psychic. The Mexicans laugh at us and/or think it is extremely cool for gringos to bike here. But I kind of feel hot and not because of the temperature. My mantra while biking? ‘Why didn’t I just take a taxi?’ and ‘We need a car pronto!’
To be continued…