A couple of weeks ago, I took a bus trip from Nuevo Laredo to Celaya Guanajuato. The bus ride wasn’t planned at first but I was having problems getting a vehicle permit so the bus was the only option and how glad I am that it turned out that way.
I took the ETN Lines a link to which is posted on this site. The fare, from Nuevo Laredo to Queretaro was a miserly $869.00MN or about $80.00 U.S. No way could I drive my suburban there and back for this amount.
Arriving at the station in Nuevo Laredo with only 15 minutes to find a safe place to park, dash across and buy the ticket and board, I nevertheless made it.
Entering the station, you are met at the counter by a drop dead gorgeous creature in the uniform of the bus line, very similar to a stewardess uniform of old.
Buying the tickets could not be a simpler process. They take you name and ask which seat you would care to occupy showing you a seating chart on their computer. Once this is accomplished you are off to the boarding area.
First, you pass through Mexican Customs where there is the ambiguities traffic light. You press the button, if green, you pass on through, if it gives you a red, then the Customs Agents look at your possessions. Mine was green fortunately.
On to the boarding area and the buses where you are greeted by two more lovely young ladies who take your ticket and offer you your choices of soft drinks and a box lunch with little appetizers on the side. Unfortunately, the appetizers I had in mind were not on the menu. I thought for a moment that one or both of these ladies would be making the trip on the bus but as usual, soon disappointment set in.
The buses are works of art. Greyhound could take lessons from the Mexican Lines. Brand new Volvo European coaches in an 8 x 3 seating configuration. (8 rows of seats 3 across)
Behind the driver is a soundproof glass wall door isolating the passenger compartment from the drivers in the front. At the rear, where the restroom regularly is, are two restrooms. A man and a woman’s. This too is behind a clear glass barrier with a sliding door. In between the two rest rooms is the beverage bar where instant coffee, tea bags and hot water is available as well as a cooler compartment for more soft drinks and water.
The seats on this coach, because of the configuration are wide and comfortable. They recline to a 20-degree angle up from horizontal. In front of you is a panel that flips down and back giving you a recliner like comfort. To the side of the seats is the audio/video control panel for the Blaupaunkt Audio Video system in the coach. This gives you first run movies along with I believe it was 6 channels of music. A headphone is available at each seat. LED reading lights above your head as well as two HVAC vents for individual comfort.
The bus is scheduled to pull out of NL at 18:15 and at 18:13 we are pulling away from the boarding area. Surprisingly, I am the only passenger on this coach on the first leg to Monterrey. This is supposed to be direct service to Queretaro but there is a 45-minute stop in Monterrey for service and a fresh team of drivers.
Leaving Nuevo Laredo in the afternoon traffic is a breeze and passing through the interior inspection south of Nuevo Laredo presents no problems. The bus is not even stopped and inspected which I thought was odd.
Once on the highway south, I am surprised at the comfort of this coach and the professionalism of the driver. The ride is smooth and quiet and very little of the road is felt. The vista windows, once you pull back the privacy curtains are outstanding. The movie for this leg of the trip is “HARD BALL” and in English no less
We arrive in Monterrey about 2100 and as stated, there is a 45 layover, which I wasn’t aware of to service the coach. Admittedly, this being my first trip on public transportation, I was a little nervous about missing the bus so I waited on the pad where I had been let off after memorizing the coaches’ number. My nervousness in retrospect was not needed and somewhat stupid.
The bus terminal in Monterrey, from what I could tell, is not in one of the best sections of neither the city nor the worst. I have driven Monterrey several times but on the bus, I was somewhat lost. The terminal is an extremely busy place with coaches from all over Mexico arriving and departing 24/7. I encountered no problems here and instead stood and took in all the humanity and activity around me. The people, as everywhere else in Mexico, were polite and well mannered and kept mostly to themselves. As a side note here, you guys looking for some normal women? Check out the bus terminals. There are some real dolls traveling through this place.
45 minutes later, to the minute, the coach returns and this time, there are at best, 8 more people taking the leg to Queretaro. Once more, the hostesses at the door to the coach checking tickets and passing out water, sodas and sack lunches. They recognize me and pass me through after loading me up with more goodies for the trip south.
The trip from Monterrey to Queretaro is largely uneventful except for this little doll sitting in the seat across the aisle. Hard to keep my eyes off that fine ass as she struggles to arrange her bag in the overhead and get comfortable in her seat. Unfortunately, she is not the friendly type and sleeps most of the way to QTO.
The movie, “RAY”, in English. I watch the movies and then settle back into my seat for some much needed sleep. I have now been awake for close to 48 hours in order to make this trip. Sleep comes easily in the reclining seats with the two little pillows provided.
Somewhere south of San Luis Potosi the coach stops and sets it brakes. I’m thinking “good! A rest stop” Smoke break! Wrong! Driver change. These coaches have a sleeping compartment under the bus next to the cargo hold for the assistant driver.
Back on the road, and we pull into QTO at 0600 on the dot. Right on time! The bus terminal in Qto sits upon the hill overlooking the city. A small but very modern establishment and impeccably clean.
I am to meet my friend here for the bus ride to Celaya and not certain if she is going to be there are have a case of the last minute doubts, I settle into wait. Sure enough, about 0630 this gorgeous creature that I have traveled 600 miles to meet, come through the gate. We meet, greet and peeling her reluctantly off of me, we purchase two tickets on PRIMERO PLUS Lines for a total of $32.00mn per person and await departure.
PRIMERO PLUS is not premium or executive service but rather intercity transportation for the common person. Clean comfortable coaches although built for capacity and not comfort. Ours was an 8-year-old BUSSCAR. PRIMERO PLUS serves all the small towns and pueblos in this part of Mexico with service local to Mexico City.
It is a quick 30-minute ride via toll road to the city of Celaya Guanajuato. This terminal also, is modern, clean and well equipped. After some discussion, my friend and I decide that the most pressing matter of business is a hotel first and then later, we will go to her house and meet the children.
The taxi service in Celaya, in a word, OUTFUCKINGSTANDING! The entire two days I was there, we went all over the town, to the hospital to visit my friends cousin who was critically injured in a motorcycle accident on Sunday, to Centro to do some shopping and explore the central plaza, and to COSTCO for the weeks shopping, never once were we charged more than $20.00mn No gringo prices here that I could discern. Two different taxi companies. Of course the green taxis and the white radio taxis. All the drivers helpful, courteous and careful.
She asks me whether I prefer the Fiesta Inn or something less expensive and being on a tight budget this trip I opt for the latter. We end up at the Hotel Santa Rosa just off Centro.
The hotel Santa Rosa I imagine would rate 3 stars. $450.00mn for two. The establishment is three stories, built of a pinkish material and extremely clean and well kept. They have an onsite restaurant with room service and an on site business center. The rooms are modern and moderately sized with architectural oddities you might expect in higher end hotels. Archways between the foyers in the rooms and the beds proper. Cable TV and hi speed Internet access built into the wall (I never could get this to acquire the IP address though) large bathrooms with showers built for two and NO AIR CONDITIONING OR HEAT! For this, it gets its three star rating. They do have a ceiling fan in the room and provide heavy blankets for those chilly evenings. Fortunately, the weather was mild this weekend so the A/C was not missed.
Now, we will skip what transpired over the next three hours. Let us say, I had a shit-eating grin on my face the rest of the day.
We walk to Centro to a specialty market and purchase some things for supper. Beefsteaks in vacuum sealed bags. Argentine beef. Hell, we have nothing like this store in Nuevo Laredo that I have found. Fresh coffee beans available. And Chef Paul Prudhomes Spices on the shelves amongst other goodies.
Purchases made, we head to her house where I am pleasantly surprised at the style and comfort of it. This lady lives in an upscale middle class neighborhood, visibly affluent. Four wonderfully well behaved children, the youngest, and a girl 4, who we immediately bond with.
She receives a call from a family member informing her of her cousin’s accident so we catch a cab back t Centro and to the Queretaro medical Center where he has been taken. Familial duties complete, we walk back to Centro where I am shown the cathedral in Centro, a magnificent old relic, falling apart but still in use, the building dating back centuries. On to the central plaza across from the Municipal Palace where it seems the entire town is out on the stroll this perfect Sunday afternoon.
The plaza of Celaya is fantastic. Your typical town square but with trees lining the circumference of the plaza cut square to form and unending umbrella around the plaza. Very relaxing.
Back to the hotel at her request for more of the more. About midnight, she leaves to go home to her kids. Not happy about that development but she promises to talk to the children and that this will be the last night for me in a hotel.
At 7:30 in the morning she is at the room waking me in a way I thoroughly enjoy. I forgot she had taken the key with her the night before. She has already shopped for breakfast so we catch a taxi back to her house where she prepares breakfast for two.
Later, I am working to cleanse her computer and doing so normal maintenance, which has never been done, and I feel a tap on the shoulder. Looking around, standing there totally nude so it is back for round 6 or is it 7.
The rest of the day, typical domestic things. Getting the younger children from their private school. A trip to COSTCO for the week’s groceries. Normal mundane activities.
The bad part of the trip comes when I am summoned back to the office and tell her I have to leave that evening. This and after she has received her children’s permission for me to stay in the house that night. Her oldest daughter has generously offered me the use of her room and agreed to sleep with her mother while I am here. This child needs to learn the facts of life, or maybe she already knows them and that is why the offer is made.
2030 in the evening and another taxi to the bus station. Myself, my novia and her 4-year-old daughter. Very hard to leave this peaceful well adjusted family and especially hard after the daughter shows her displeasure with me leaving.
ETN Lines again. I like these guys. Hostesses at the door although not as cute as the ones in Monterrey or Nuevo Laredo. Only two other folks going north with me this trip. Movie on the trip north? Hell if I remember but it was in Spanish.
0530 in the morning finds us pulling into Monterey to let off the other two passengers. No layover on the trip north and once again, I have the bus to myself. 0745 finds us pulling into Nuevo Laredo. At the southern checkpoint, a customs inspector sticks his head in the cabin; waves and we are off again.
Home by 0830 with no one the wiser as to my weekend trip of discovery.
Will I be making the trip again? Damned right in about 10 days! And probably by bus. This is a safe and economical alternative for travel in Mexico. Use the executive or Gold service. Names vary by :Lines. The only downside is the need to use public transport at your destination, as I am accustomed to getting in the Suburban and going.