Thursday, January 31, 2013

Mexico City Metro Ride!

I mentioned that I wanted to write a bit about my experience in the Mexico City metro on Wednesday. So here goes...

Mexico City's metro is world class. It moves more than 4.5 million people every day quickly and with limited noise and bustle. Total metro stations, both of the subway and elevated kind, now number over 200, with several new lines built in the last couple of years, and one strategic line connecting previously isolated part of the city just opened several months ago. It is better than Chicago, and faster than D.C., two other metro lines I'm that I'm familiar with.  And is it incomparably more economical.  You can ride all day, through unlimited transfer stops, for 3 pesos.  That's about 25 cents.

But, alas, it does have it's drawbacks!  Life is good if you ride the metro between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., but should your obligations require you to travel during "rush hours," well, let's just say that you're in for an experience worth far more than the price of a one-way ticket!
I met a good friend of my, Juan Piza, at 4 p.m. at one of Mexico City's biggest Christian bookstores, Vision, and we talked about the ins and outs of forming a Mexican non-profit, called an asociación civil.  Later, Jorge joined us, an accountant from the church who is helping us with the paperwork process.  I was in good spirits for the meeting, having avoided a nearby BurgerKing (what was I thinking?) in deference to a tiny taco restaurant barely bigger than a walk-in closet, but with tasty suadero and tripa tacos (see pic below).  Mmmm.
The meeting went very well.  At around 6:30 p.m. I said goodbye to Juan and Jorge and began my journey home, boarding the blue line at Allende, and riding it two stops to Piño Suarez.  That's where the fun began.
Piño Suarez is a transfer stop connecting to the pink line, that runs right through the heart of the city.  In the space of 7 stops (from Balderas to San Lázaro), the pink line intersects with 5 other major north/south routes.  The amount of human traffic in these metro stops is incredibly dense.

I boarded the train in the underground station at Piño Suárez going east towards Blvd. Puerto Aereo, but not right away by any means.  After meandering through the transfer tunnels, I found myself with probably another 200 people waiting behind a large, metal gate.  A friendly policeman was manning the gate.  After several minutes, he opened the gate, and the whole group of us made our way to the subway station platform.  As we neared the train area, more policemen separated the sheep from the goats, or in this case the men from the women, and we filed down what reminded me of cattle stalls, but were really thick, wooden dividers. 

Normally the women are designated three cars at the very front of the subway train, but during rush hour, the train is nearly equally divided between the sexes.  I picked a spot with the mass of men, and waited.  I didn't get on the first train, but was swept up into the second.  I had learned previously that you don't want to be standing too close to the door (or too far away either!), so I picked a space near the edge of the door entrance and the seats, and hung on.

But I didn't really have to hang on at all.  We were packed in so tightly, that I couldn't have moved if I had wanted to.  And oh, the smells!  Day-old deodorant and sweat, the musty air from the overhead vents, and an occasional waft of fresh air from a passing station. 

I remembered a lesson I had previously learned watching one unfortunate rider, as he was repeatedly swept in and out of the car, caught up between those wanting out, and those wanting in.  At the Candelaria stop, four people managed to exit our packed car, but somehow 9 more crammed their way in!  I was beginning to wonder if during lurch in the train, I might crack a rib!

Finally by the time my stop came, I was able to move a bit more freely, and exited the subway on my way to a bus that would take me most of the remaining 20 miles to Ixtapaluca.  Much more could be said about such a mass of humanity.  But one thing is certain…each person in that metro has an eternal soul, and is on their way to an eternal destination.

1 comment:

AlanBeth said...

The food photo is a bit blurry. Thank-you for that! :-) (I may have heard of whatever that is, but I don't really want to ask, and I'm pretty sure I don't want to know!)

The AC question is interesting. Would like to know what conclusions or thoughts you're having on that issue. After seeing the cc here where we are operate within an AC, I feel it limits us in some important ways. However, understanding the applicable laws and whether or not we're really operating within them or could even be less conservative in our approach is something I'm always wondering about. (this comment section isn't really the right place for this conversation, obviously). Am interested in what you're considering/weighing and for what purpose you'd operate under an AC. Email if you'd like...unfortunately, I'm not really the person here who needs to know anything important you might have to share. That would be Tim O. I'm still interested in knowing though.