As many of you know, Mary E and I are now well into our 3rd month of living abroad, and I’ve also been back in el D.F. for a while now. It’s difficult to say that our lives feel normal, but they’ve certainly grown a degree of regularity and familiarity. When we first arrived in México, our initial blog posts focused on our cursory reactions to being somewhere so foreign. In many ways, we are still (and will always be) los nuevos, but each day we are becoming more vetted in living here and getting around. Thus, I thought it might be interesting to rehash some topics that we discussed previously, providing a more robust description to the reader.
In general, we do most of our traveling on foot (a pie) or via public transportation (usually, the metro!)
Fortunately, we live about a block away from Metro Station Chapultepec (named for the forest to which it is adjacent). To get to Mary E’s school, we travel west on Line 1, and then change over to Line 2 at Metro Station Piño Suarez.
Each Metro stop sort of has its own look and character. For example, when we change lines at Piño Suarez, we pass the monument above. Each Metro stop also has its own symbol or icon. Guess what the one for Piño Suarez is?
Our Metro’s symbol is a grasshopper (from Chapultepec forest…cute!)
Line 2, which we take from Piño Suarez to Metro Station General Anaya (to get to Mary E’s school), is above ground along the main street Tlalpan. Those stations remind me very much of the “T” in Boston.
All of the Metro stations are pretty large. They accommodate at least 1 line (if not more), with subway trains moving in both directions. Sometimes depending on the layout, you have to walk quite a while to change directions or lines. Many of them have stores inside from 7-11’s, clothing stores, jewelry, internet, restaurants, etc. They’re generally pretty safe and bustling places.
As I said, each station has its own feel to it. When traveling by Metro to the ‘Norte’ Bus Station, we pass through a Tunnel of Science (with a section animals, insects, topography, and even a planetarium section!
Another great aspect of these symbols and stations is that they really are important landmarks in the city. Many of the paseros (small busses that travel down main roads on set routes) will list one or two metro stops on their signs that they will pass. In fact, from Mary E’s school we can either backtrack home on the Metro, or take a pasero to Metro Chapultepec. It all depends on the time of day. We haven’t quite figured out how to travel from our Metro station to Mary E’s school via pasero, but we’re pretty sure that there’s a way to do it (like I said, estamos los nuevos siempre.)
If there’s a way to correspond from the Metro to a different form of public transportation, like the Metrobús, then the concurrent stations will have the same name and symbol. (E.g. Metro Insurgentes and Metro Chilpancingo).
Around each Metro station are usually a series of street vendors selling candy (dulces), pirated CDs and DVDs, umbrellas, clothes, and our most recent obsession: the food vendors. Last night we ate at an open air taco place, not quite a street cart, but we’re moving in that direction. Some of the food just looks and smells too good to resist, and you can tell which places are popular by examining their clientele.
One last comment, it helps that we’re rarely in a rush when taking the Metro. We try to avoid traveling during rush hour because that is a quick way to get VERY intimate with complete strangers as you sardine into a packed car (can sardine be a transitive verb?). Crowds also generally move slowly. I described it to Mary E as follows: it’s like a group of slow people trying to pass a larger group of incredibly slow people. Unless you can walk through people, you’re not necessarily going anywhere fast. I was also joking that on our path to her school (around Metro General Anaya) there are a few parts where you need to walk past some street vendors and there’s really only room for one person to walk comfortably, even though foot traffic comes from both directions. Normally the rules of physics apply, where two people who are about to collide will evaluate who is closer to the crevice, the speed at which each walks, and then mutually agree on who goes first. But this doesn’t always work here, and the person walking at me almost always goes first regardless. Other times I feel like if we both turned sideways we would fit, but usually whomever is walking towards me, be they a broad shouldered macho or a uniformed school girl, will seem to puff out their chest and fill out the entire cavity so that I have to wait for them to pass before I can walk. Oh well, everything can’t always be perfect, and it’s a small price to pay not to have to drive!
We’ll see you on Line 1 – Yepts