Yesterday Mario took the day off of work, as we went to apply for Little Girl's Mexican passport, which Mario was sure would take ALL DAY. However, Saltillo is a much smaller city than Mexico City, which he's used to, and therefore lines are much shorter and we were finished at about noon. Not bad. We'll pick up the passport tomorrow and leave the country next week. Excellent!
We had lunch downtown, wandered around a little bit, but when we could tell that Little Girl was clearly getting sleepy and rain also looked likely, we headed back home. I got the girl down for her nap, sat at the table with Mario and asked myself, "What to do now?" As Mario was home and plugged into the computer, I was under no obligation to remain in the house. Taking a walk sounded like a good idea, but again, it looked like rain.
So I asked myself, "What is it I would really like to do during a day when I'm NOT obligated to have a baby attached at the hip?" Immediately it dawned on me. I wanted to take a bus ride.
Now, I realize most people would not actively choose to hop on a bus for a few hours' worth of unexpected free time. Me, however, I think it's a lot of fun. (Clearly, I grew up in suburbia.) Plus, as I don't like to drive (and we only own one working vehicle), it's a great way for me to find out how to get around the city when I either don't have a car at my disposal.
I headed downtown, parked myself on a street where a plethora of different bus routes barrel down the road, and waited for a likely looking bus. Finally, I decided to jump on the Route 3. After all, on their return trip they'll nearly drop me off at my doorstep, so it's a good route to get to know, right? (Note: in must of the rest of the country, buses have signs posted on their windshields listing a variety of landmarks they pass on their routes. Not so in Saltillo. I don't know how other transplants learn how to get from one end of town to another, but my plan is simply to hop on a bus and see where it takes me. Clearly, this is not a very convenient plan when I have the baby with me.)
After cruising around downtown for awhile, the bus turned southeast and ambled through a variety of neighborhoods that I had no idea existed (I live southwest). Then it headed north, passed Wal-Mart, the baseball stadium, and soon I realized that we were in neighborhoods behind the university. It was nice to have a good idea where I was. Sometimes it's a bit terrifying when I don't. The bus kept heading north, and I toyed with the idea of getting off and trying another route, or simply sticking this one out to discover exactly how far out it goes. I stayed on the bus.
Finally, after turning east again, I was the only passenger on the bus. I noticed that we were nearing Liverpool (big department store), and the driver asked if I'd be getting off. I have a feeling that since he had no other passengers, he was then free to turn around and head back into town, as opposed to cruising through the colonias. I didn't mind, as I was pretty excited to find a way to get to Liverpool all by myself (and, as I discovered, Liverpool is not just Liverpool anymore--it's a full-fledged mall! I felt like I was back in Metepec, minus the skating rink).
After polishing off a plate of sushi, courtesy of Wal-Mart, I headed out to catch a bus back home. Again, I caught the Route 3, assuming that after weaving in and out of various neighborhoods it would drop me off nearly at my doorstep. However, the bus disposed of its last passengers and came to a stop literally on the other side of the tracks from my house. Not the safest walk home in the world. And unfortunately it was nearing 8pm. In many cities, the buses stop running at about this time, and I had never paid attention to when Saltillo's buses stop running.
The driver asked me where I wanted to go, and when I named my street he mentioned, a little irritated, that he already passed there. In my head, I thought, "yeah, but I thought you'd pass again." I asked if he'd be running the route again, and as he said yes, I just paid another fare and stayed on the bus and chatted with his wife and son who were also along for the ride. It turns out that the Route 3 is not the same as Route 3A, which goes past my house. Now I know.
Two hours after leaving Liverpool, I made it home. Maybe I should get better at driving the Jeep. But I'd miss out on a few adventures.