Morning Bus Ride in Mexico City

Monday, Wednesday, Friday, it's the same bus route through a grotesquely rich district in Mexico City. Nearly blind in my state of half-sleep, I sit on a rickety camion as it barrels through lanes of twisted traffic. The sun is not yet up but the city has been awake since 5 a.m. Newspapermen weave confidently through lanes clogged with cars nervously poised for momentum. I'm not yet alert enough to digest a book so I allow myself the pleasure of being rocked (or occasionally jolted) towards wakefulness. I love the dark pleasure of passing through the belly of the beast in its first rabid hours. Good morning, my fearsome city. How will you be for me today?

I love its terrible morning breath, the way it rubs its crumpled eyes, stamps its feet. My beautiful city, full of churlish grace. Today I rode my favourite camion. Each bus is a world until itself--one plays sickly sweet pop, another displays a formidable image of Jesus. One has delicious plush seats; another is so beaten down I swear it's patched together with thumb tack and safety pins. My favourite bus prominently displays a sign that says "Bad Boys," as well as a menacing poster of Heath Ledger as The Joker that carefully shrouds the driver from view.

"Bad Boy" is all about presentation. His windows are tinted. He's even taken care to install black lights in the cabin. He has horribly uncomfortable plastic seats. And he is in possession of an earth-shattering sound system that would rival that of a top-notch night club. The entire bus shudders at each bass note which inevitably accompanies some kind of boisterous music, whether it be salsa, Spanish rap, or my personal favourite--banda.

His driving is to be respected, and probably feared. "Bad Boy" scorns red lights: green, red, or yellow--he forces his way through them all. His foot has a light touch on the brake; he has a sinuous way of navigating even the most snarled of traffic. He doesn't return my lightly offered "buenos dias." He takes my five pesos and he gives me one back without even a glance. I am cargo, that is all.

On the occasion that he brings a friend along for the ride, he speaks in the most wonderful slangy Spanish. No maaaaames, güey... I love it, I aspire to have slangy street Spanish that doesn't sound like it was concocted in a dingy Toronto classroom.

"Bad Boy" would disdain my desire to romanticize his life. I don't know anything about him really, except that he has an overwhelming desire to be el chingon (the king/badass) of his world. It's a quality that several Mexicans have told me they hate. And probably want to acquire or already have.

I like his el chingon-ness. I want to be the biggest badass of this crazy city, too. Who wouldn't want to mount the beast?

2 comments:

Angelica said...

I'm a chilanga living in Toronto, I like how you write about Mexico, because I miss it a lot.
I miss those kind of colorful experiences in DF like taking the camión, the music, the coulours and the people you see there.
I often tell my Canadian friends about how it is to live in Mexico City and tell them they should go visit. However, I think most of them imagine it as an awful place, insecure and chaotic and I just feel sad that they will never get it.
I wish you the best on your stay in Mexico.
Suerte!

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