I have never been a fan of cars but it got worse since I moved to Mexico City. You start to hate them when you hear engine sounds, honking and tires squealing, starting from early in the morning until late in the night. And when thousands of them hit the streets as if they owned them, many with a high disregard for the bicycle lane or the people walking by, it does not really help your mixed feelings about cars.
Me, on the other hand, I am usually at the metro station “La Raza” at 8:30 to start my journey to the office. I am in one of the busiest stations in México City since two lines are found here (Line 3 and 5) and both, the metro and the metrobus merge here too.
Before entering the station, the informal food vendors and their customers foreshadow the feeling of crowdedness and movement inside “La Raza”. I go down the stairs with people from all walks of life. Some are going to work, some others to school and others just to start their daily errands.
I am about to enter, when I realize that I forgot my metro card, which costs 10 pesos. I see the long line at the ticket booth but I don’t have another option. I stand there and look for the 5 pesos I will have to pay, which a year ago would have been 3 pesos before the government raised the cost. It is finally my turn and I give my 5 pesos to a not-so-happy-to-sell-me-a-ticket woman (they ticket sellers are usually women) and I am off to look for the lane going towards “Universidad”.
After walking a little bit to the center of the platform, it starts to be warmer. I look for the womens’ section of the platform. There is a clock stuck at “6:12”, even though it is fifteen to nine. I am now at the right place. Finally, the metro arrives. The ones getting into the metro barely wait for the ones getting out of it to make it. There is pushing, people stressed out to get to work in silence. It is crowded and it is even warmer now. The air condition doesn’t work.
At the next station, a man gets into wagon, caring little that it is the womens’ section. He is carrying a stereo in his back playing latin rock music through a CD player. He shouts “Get it for 10 pesos, a DVD with the 15 best hits of latin rock music”. Peddlers are usual at the metro, shouting their selling pitches, which weirdly have the same voice inflections, no matter from which peddler they come from. They sell a variety of things from candy, cooking books, toys or as in this case, CD’s.
The metro sometimes makes abrupt stops and I am lucky that I am tall and I can hold on to the wagons’ ceiling, if I am not close to the holders. I arrive to “Balderas”, where I have to make a change to the pink line towards “Observatorio”. Here is where patience is a virtue. It is still very crowded and walking can get slow.
I wait on the platform, who knows how much time it is going to take for the metro to get here.
The only predictable thing is its own unpredictibleness. Eventually, it arrives. Same old and the key words are: Crowdedness, warmth and silence. I arrive to Insurgentes, you are welcomed to the station with murals depicting the French Metro and the London Underground including travellers , poets , artists etc from those countries.
I am surrounded by people dressed in work clothes since many offices are close by. The outside of the station is shaped like a big circle and you take stairs to the main ground, where the Metrobus lanes are. I realize again that I forgot my card, but now, I don’t have the option to buy a ticket. Here, I can only use a card. So, I buy another one in the machines, just in front of the entry turnstiles.
It has been almost an hour since I left from “La Raza”, when the big red Metrobus arrives. I am still three Metrobus stations away from the office. I hardly can get into the bus, when the doors loudly close. I can now see from the windows, the stranded people in the traffic jam, which are passed by the Metrobus since it has its’ own lane. The commute is far from ideal but still, I am thankful about the options in such a big, complicated city.