MELAQUE, Jalisco, Mexico - We took an early morning bus ride from La Manzanilla to Puerto Vallarta, that began with a rocket/taxi ride over to Melaque, the site of the bus terminal for this section of Mexico.
The tickets for the bus ride were 162 pesos each - about $15 - on a first-class bus. We had two movies during the ride: one in which Tom Cruise plays a hit man, the second a thriller about two children whose parents have been killed in a car accident. Watching movies while careening around mountain switchbacks is definitely not recommended.
But before we caught the bus, a driver from another line came over and starting chatting with Sylvia about her violin and then demonstrated his prowess. When not piloting buses around the region, he plays in a band and the violin is his instrument of choice, though he said he can play others, too.
The Admiral's violin always draws stares - violins are not that common in this part of coastal Mexico. At least not in bus stations in small towns. After Daniel the Driver gave his concert, he insisted that the Admiral play a tune, which she did, The Road to Lisdovarna, an Irish tune that had the crowd tapping their feet.
I started to dance a little jig, but thought the better of it, as my dancing abilities are hardly up to the level of the Admiral's violin skills and were likely to spark an international incident with headlines like "Clumsy Gringo Empties Bus Terminale."
I did risk an international incident about an hour later when we cruised up to a military checkpoint. These checkpoints are fairly common around the country and this one featured a small, white drug-sniffing dog they let loose inside the luggage compartment under the floor of the bus.
We were all relieved that the little pooch didn't have to, well, relieve himself while he was doing his important security work. A few people seemed uneasy when the dog crawled in the compartment but mostly because they had loaves of bread and other foodstuffs in there that hoped didn't get a doggy lick.
If the photo seems a little less than great, it's because I wasn't looking through the viewfinder when I shot it. I learned that trick taking photos of a group Hell's Angels many years ago. They were quite camera shy, too, it seemed and suggested that they would do something that is anatomically impossible with my 35mm if I shot any film.
Even in Mexico, they know
The four-hour trip went by quickly, with only a few stops in the towns between La Manzanilla and Puerto Vallarta. These towns have their own ticket agents with bus terminals that are just shady spots along the road.
At our first stop, in the photo above, the young lady handling ticket duties expressed her views of one North American city.
Good thing comedian Drew Carey wasn't on the bus with us.