The Localist

Hold on to your seats


For most Americans, Mexico is synonymous with danger. For a lot of Mexicans, Mexico City is synonymous with danger as well. There’s much talk about how dangerous this city is.

And I won’t disagree entirely. But I will disagree. A lot depends on the area, or the time of year – Christmas, for example, or quincena (pay day).

I won’t say the time of day matters…because I have seen that the light of day makes no difference to some people here.  I will say that I find this city relatively safe, especially considering it is one of the largest cities in the world.

When it comes to danger, what I do think you should really be watching out for is the public transport in Mexico City.

Allow me to preface my post: In Mexico City, traffic laws are more suggestion than rule.  You probably won’t get assaulted in the middle of the street, but a pesero (bus) driver won’t bat an eye if he happens to hit you.

That being said, here are some tips for getting around the city using public transportation.

  1. Look both ways before crossing the street. And then again. Right, left, right. Maybe once more for good measure. Traffic comes from any and every direction here. And remarkably quickly.  A one-way street means nothing.
  2. It doesn’t matter if all traffic is stopped. Keep looking. I guarantee you some wey on a motorcycle will come weaving through the stopped cars and run that red light.
  3. When taking buses, HOLD ON.  Possibly the most fun and also scariest experience you will have in DF will be in the peseros. They are like rides at Six Flags, but without seatbelts, thematic music and all.
  4. The Metro is one of the best ways to get around. Some words of advice: The first cars are for women and children only. That being said, if you’re a younger woman and it’s rush hour, forget getting a seat in those cars—the señoras (older women, grandmas alike) are vicious. They will push you out of the way, with more force than any man. Better to go to the normal seating cars and guilt a caballero into giving up his seat for you.
  5. MetroBus is a fairly new addition to the city. And I can’t say I’m entirely convinced. If you have heard the Metro is crowded, you ain’t seen nothin’ til you take Line 2 and 3 of MetroBus. I actually find MetroBus more dangerous, in terms of theft, due to the sheer amount of passengers coupled with the movement of the bus. You would never know if someone had taken your wallet. A word of advice for travelling on MetroBus: keep your arms up… as if you were in a mosh pit at a punk show.

And my friends, with these words of advice, a sense of direction, and very minimal Spanish, you should be able to navigate your way around Mexico City pretty easily.


Image. Photo by Katie Bielamowicz.

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