Adventures in Squareland

travels and work around the world



May '13 - Feb '16

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    day 1: public transit

    Alec Perkins
    May 30, '13 4:10 PM EST

    Slow start today. I slept well, being exhausted from the stress and the long day of travel. Woke up around 8, and did some research and work, trying to identify all the things I need to do. Making lists is calming.

    Around noon, Alejandro and I made fried eggs with salsa, and that was our late breakfast. Alejandro explained that in Mexico, many people eat a late breakfast around 9 or 10, then a large meal at 3-4pm, and finally a light supper around 8 or 9 o clock at night.

    Alejandro generously offered to show me the ropes of getting around the city, so we set out first for the route I would take to get to the office. They live in the state of Mexico, outside the federal district, so they have to take a combi or a taxi to get anywhere.

    We walked through his neighborhood which is largely a series of affluent households with dramatic security precautions. Every house has a huge gate, and most have razor wire topped high walls. Some of them also have electrified wire.

    At the major street, you can flag a combi which come pretty regularly. Combis are a generic term, used worldwide, to describe a variety of small busses for the use of public transit. I remember the term being used to describe the tiny deathtraps of Beijing. The combis here are larger and much more stable although they drive pretty fast.

    The wage structure of a combi driver is based on a meeting a set quota. Anything above that quota is pure profit. So its not uncommon for multiple drivers to race for fares.

    Anyway, taking the combi to the metro is easy- its one of the major destinations all the combis drop off at. Once we got to the station, you tell the driver where you got on and pass him your fare. (in our case, M$7 which is about 50 cents.)

    Outside the metro station are tons of combis, busses, taxis, and the walkways and islands are filled with vendors and stalls selling cheap jewellery, food, sodas, and snacks.

    The metro stations are dingy and old, they do kind of stink of humanity. The trains are relatively clean and there’s a train every three minutes. They’re also the longest trains I’ve ever seen for public transit, perhaps only bested by the trains in Moscow. The fare is M$3, paid in exchange for tickets at the Taquilla (ticket booth).

    The system is very easy to navigate. Each car has a few line maps with every station marked with large icons, representing either a nearby major monument or a reference to the name (Chapultapec, which means ‘mountain of the grasshoppers’ is represented by a grasshopper icon). I thought it was for aiding visitors, but Sal was telling me they did it so the system would be usable by the illiterate. It still kind of blows my mind that there are illiterate populations out there. #humanityfail.

    We changed trains twice and both times it was clear where to go to change and which line and which direction to take. Finally, we popped out at Sevilla, the metro stop closest to my workplace.


    mexico city
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Urban and architectural explorations from Mexico City to Stuttgart Germany through the eyes of a iterant architectural designer

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