• Feb

    Taking the Subway (and Bus) in Downtown Guadalajara


    When I came out of downtown, I’d planned on taking a taxi back to my hotel. As I got closer to the area where a group of taxis were clustered, I noticed an overhead walkway that went to some sort of plaza.

    guadalajara downtown walkway to train

    When I got there, I wound up walking down a flight of stairs where all sorts of vendors were hawking their wares. I also saw some people suffering from the worst poverty I’d seen in a awhile. One toothless old man was crying his story, while another lay slumped on the steps, his body suffering from an advanced state of decay. It was difficult to look at, painfully so.

    As I moved into the central area, I realized that there was access to a train, a subway, and I was caught up with the idea of taking the train, as far as it could go, towards my hotel. I spoke to one of the vendors, asking him for directions, based on a map on a sign above us. He responded, but due to my limited Spanish, I had trouble understanding him.

    It got even more complicated when he called over someone else for additional info. After several minutes of talk, and not being sure if I understood, I decided to go into the station regardless.

    guadalajara train san juan de dios station

    When I got down here, I asked for more directions. And again, due to my limited Spanish, I wasn’t sure I understood. But there were several key points, and as it turned out, I understood more than I’d realized.

    guadalajara train station token receptacle

    See this strange looking image? It’s a closeup of a receptacle for tokens, which I had to buy before I could board the train. Each token is 4.5 pesos. Since I had only a diez (a ten peso coin), I wound up with two of them.

    guadalajara train station token

    And here’s the token. The ridges you see are on both sides of the coin. Only this coin can fit through the slot in the slot above. As it turned out, getting it in was a bit fiddly, but once I did, I was able to enter the gate.

    guadalajara train

    One of the trains coming into the station. The first one that came my way was full, so I waited for the next one, which was only 5 minutes away.

    When the train arrived, I was a bit confused because I noticed that the name on the front of the train was Juarez, but according to my directions, I had to get off at Juarez, which was the end of the line. I resolved to get on the train anyway, and see where it led. If I wound up in the wrong place, I reasoned, I knew I could hire a taxi to take me back to the hotel.

    When I got on the train, one of the first things I did was to see if I could find a map of the route. As luck would have it, the map was only a few feet away from where I was standing. When I looked at it, I realized that the Juarez station was only two stops away, so it was going to be a short ride, only 5 minutes, as it turned out.

    When we arrived at Juarez everyone got off. My instructions were to take the stairs all the way to the top and catch a route 629 bus, that would take me to my hotel.

    guadalajara juarez station

    This is where I came out, at the top of the stairs.

    guadalajara juarez train station in park

    The train station was actually in the middle of a large park. As I looked around, I could see several buses on several streets around the park. I had no idea which way to go, so I walked straight ahead to the nearest bus.

    When I got there, I could see that it was R-629, the bus I was told to catch. Just to make sure, I asked the bus driver if this was the correct one to get me to my hotel. I showed him my reservation slip (with the address) and my map. After a bit of conversation, he told me I was on the wrong bus, that his would miss my hotel and to get on the R-626 bus.

    Just as we completed our conversation, the R-626 bus rounded the one I was on, and went around the corner to the left. To get to it, I had to cross the street, but the traffic wasn’t cooperating. After some minutes, I managed to cross the street and get on the bus (the price was 4.5 pesos).

    I really had no idea why I was doing this. I’d promised myself that my days of riding these rattletrap buses were over, and here I was, getting on another one. I was a bit hot and sweaty when I finally sat down and the fact that I couldn’t open any of the windows on my side didn’t help matters. When I looked around, I saw one woman with a smile on her face, watching my struggles.

    Realizing there was nothing to be done, I gave up and sat there, watching the scene unfold as the bus wound it’s way down the streets. At one point, the bus driver stopped beside another bus at an intersection, opened the doors and went over to have a chat with the other driver, oblivious to the loud horns blaring at our bus from behind. After a few moments, he went back to his seat and we continued on.

    Eventually, I had to give up my seat when an elderly (and extremely obese) woman got on board. That turned out to be a blessing. I was standing, unable to see where we were going, so I moved up to where the driver was sitting, and got down on one knee, which allowed me to ask for directions and also see where we were going.

    After about 5 miniutes or so, the hotel came into view and I got off. It was an amazingly simple journey and not all that far from the downtown core. Feeling a bit tired and a bit thirsty, I headed into the hotel for a well earned coffee.

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