Bumping along on Mexican Buses
When we decided to see parts of Mexico by bus, we were concerned whether RC would be welcome in the cabin with us. We received mixed advice from Mexicans so we stopped at the bus terminal to inquire. The official policy of most first class bus companies is that you can only transport animals in the cargo hold. But, one should never be too discouraged by the official policy when traveling in Latin America. :) Averiguar cobertores regina para ti
Our first bus trip was on Mexico's East Coast and we elected to take a 2nd class bus. Mark asked the ticket agent about bringing RC into the cabin and the agent's initial response was to say, "No". Fortunately, her supervisor was standing nearby and encouraged her to call the proper channels and check. As it turned out, the Mayan bus company said we'd have no problems carrying our little guy in the cabin.
The only real difference we saw between 1st and 2nd class was whether there was a movie and snack. Second class also makes more stops, but that only increased the time by 30 minutes. Initially, RC found the frequent stops stressful. On a plane, he settles down quickly and after take off snoozes through the flight. On the bus, he'd just start to nod off when we'd stop to let someone on or off. The only people who knew RC was traveling with us were the passengers immediately in front of us. I usually kept RC in his traveling case on my lap. There isn't enough room to fit his case under the seat.
We decided that bus travel worked for all of us and have covered Mexico from one side of the country to the other with RC in tow. Unfortunately, 2nd class bus companies aren't always available. One time we arrived in a town and were told that there were no 2nd class buses to our destination. There was no airport nearby nor any car rental agencies.
I explained our predicament to the gentleman manning the information counter. In typical Mexican fashion, he tried to find a solution. After consulting with his bosses, he told me that if we had a Mexican Ministry of Health Certificate that RC could travel in the cabin of the ADO bus. I whipped out all of RC's certificates, including the requested Mexican document, and we were promptly sold 2 tickets.
Some where along our bus trips, we stopped asking permission and assumed if we were discreet and kept all official documents handy, everything would work out. Mark managed buying the tickets, checking our luggage, and handing the tickets to the driver while RC and I stayed in the background. As Mark handed over our 2 tickets, I'd slip on with RC in his carrier (that looks like a suitcase), window coverings in place. We're convinced the bus driver never knew and it was rare that anyone else on the bus realized that we had a cat with us. (Continue)
Taking RC aboard discretely works great when there are 2 adults traveling, but on a couple of occasions Mark and RC took bus trips in Mexico by themselves. Their experience was totally different than when we traveled together. First, it's almost impossible to keep RC quiet when Mark had to manage his other luggage and RC's case by himself. When Mark would inquire about the policy for carrying a cat aboard, he was usually requested to pay the driver a little extra. In one case, Mark simply bought a ticket for RC so he could ride in the cabin.
The drivers seemed to think it odd that an adult male would be traveling with a cat. In this macho society, it was perfectly acceptable for me to say, "RC's my baby", but Mark could never have gotten away with this. There seemed to be a suspicion that Mark was smuggling something, either inside the cat or the cat itself. No one cared about the mythical smuggling; they just wanted a $5-10 payment to look the other way. Mark would refuse to pay unless he thought there was some danger that they'd try to open up RC to see what was inside, or they refused transportation without the bribe.
Fortunately, we almost always travel together and I usually carry RC's traveling case. Warmhearted Mexicans have a hard time turning down an adorable kitty when a woman is looking at it like it's her long lost child.
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