Getting Around By Metro

Mexico City’s metro system, like much of everything in the city, is something of a multi headed monster! It’s a fairly recent system as far as metro’s of the world go – built in 1969, I believe by the French. Which explains a few things…!

It is reasonably quick though, with a decent number of stations served, and the ride is smooth – it’s so far the only subway I’ve been on (that I’ve noticed anyway) where the trains run on rubber tyres!

You never have to wait more than a couple of minutes for the next train, unless there is a breakdown – which is pretty rare. And best of all, it costs just 2 pesos per journey! Doesn’t matter where you want to go, it’s just 2 pesos! No zones, no confusing ticket machines, just get your 2 peso ticket and you’re off!

And now the downside! The turnstyles that you go through to enter the system. Every station has at least 3 or 4, most have half a dozen or more. But will there ever be more than 2 in working order? Not a chance! Only ever 2 work, unless it’s rush hour and things are really busy, in which case they’ll only have one working!! Similar rule for escalators!

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There are also now some new trains! But what I want to know, is which idiot came us with the idea of designing the seats to be single metal units placed along the sides of each carriage, polished to such a high sheen that every time the train stops or starts every passenger slides one way or the other, squashing the poor sucker at the end to near death?

The buskers and salespeople! The city’s entire population of blind people and those with other severe mental or physical affliction end up on the metro damaging our eardrums with mostly rubbish music blaring out of clapped out speakers. The top salesmen have a mic attached so that they can deafen us to two different frequencies at the same time. And few of them have any idea just how awful it is to be reminded that songs like ‘Life Is Life’, The Final Countdown’ and other 80’s trash, ever existed. I had tried to forget anyway. The CD’s they sell cost 10 pesos…I would pay them 20 pesos to shut up and get off at the next stop. Thankfully most do the getting off at the next stop free of charge anyway….

But worse than the CD sellers are those that try to sing the songs for our immediate entertainment. They believe the music to be so good, we just can’t wait to get home to hear it. Even if we ran to our flats or houses, it would be too long a wait. We must hear it now! Oh the depth of talent that exists on the metro!!! My favourite is Ra Ra Ra Raaaar Ra Ra Ra Raaaa Man! A particularly unclean chap clearly in a state of mental difficulty stands at the end of the carriage, rakes a wooden stick up and down a cheese grater type device for a minute then starts shouting Ra Ra Ra Raaaar Ra Ra Ra Raaaa at the top of his voice for another couple of minutes. Unlike other buskers who then walk down the carriage stopping only if someone holds out a couple of coins, this guy stops at each passenger, thrusts out his can and shours Raa Raa at them! I really do sympathise with people who’s lives are obviously very difficult and disadvantaged, and you do what you can, but there are times that you can’t help but laugh!

But the worst of all! Every country has its freaks who do strange things that should hurt but don’t seem to. The guys who walk on coal. And no burns on their feet! The French chap, Monsieur Mange Tout who eats glass and the such, all with seemingly no effect on his digestive system! Well, when Mexico City’s glass walkers appear on your carriage, with their cloth of broken bottles and window panes, you may think you are in for a similarly wondrous treat of physics-defying daring do!

Yeah, right! Now my Spanish is pretty appalling, so I don’t understand exactly what they are saying. But having witnessed these guys several times, I beleieve the big speech they give as they get on the carriage goes something like this –

Ladies and Gentleman! Watch as I, Senor NoBrains, stamp on this sheet of broken glass! Marvel at how the blood flows as my toes are lacerated! See how I can lie on my back on this glass, scarring myself for life! And the finale! Watch as my amigo pulls countless shards of jagged bottle ends from my back, spraying this carriage with my blood!

And he wants 2 pesos for giving us such a visual feast….

Yes, the metro is a wondrous beats, a city in itself! And it lives! Buy your 2 peso ticket today, you won’t be bored, or disappointed with the experience!

In case I’ve left an impression suggesting otherwise, I will point out I love the metro, for all its good and bad points!

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