Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

Public transportation

Before I came to Merida I was very concerned about having to ride the bus to school. Having been to Mexico before, I didn’t think it was going to be safe, especially as a girl. So before the program started I asked IFSA-Butler if they could provide transportation for us to go to school. They ensured me though that it is safe and told me that our host moms would practice riding on the bus with us to show us which buses to take and how to get to school.

I was very skeptical on my first day of having to take the bus, but my host mom was right next to me. Since I had to go to another faculty as my friends because I was taking business classes, she wanted me to know exactly where I’d have to go. So we walked 3 blocks and then got to the main street. There we stood waiting for the bus, and once it arrived she lifted her arm (in the beginning I never quite liked this way of stopping the bus because I felt shy and awkward if the bus passed by without stopping, but after a while it’s pure routine and you won’t mind it). The bus stopped and we got aboard. 3 pesos for students with IDs and 7 pesos for anyone else. 3 pesos. That’s about 23 cents. The buses are very different from buses in the US even though you can find a variety of buses in Merida. There is the normal “cheap version” for 3 pesos. The bus will shake a bit with every whole in the street, but it’s safe and the majority of students take it. You will never find a maximum capacity sticker in the bus. One of my friends actually mentionded: “There is no maximum capacity. But that’s ok because the bus driver has about 15 pictures of Jesus and the Virgin.” Which is actually true :)

Those buses usually turn into lots of side streets and if you are in a hurry you will probably take a Combi. The Combis are small vans (very safe, with licensed and registered drivers) that pass by almost all the time. They will just follow the main streets because they go all the way to the little Pueblos outside Merida, but by saying: “BAJA!” you can get off anywhere you want. Those Combis cost between 7 and 10 pesos and as I mentioned are a safe way to travel.

Then there is buses with AC that go on the same routes like the normal buses but are much nicer with their AC and more comfortable seats. They cost 7 pesos as well.

And then of course you have the option of taking a cab. You probably shouldn’t take the sketchiest one with neon lights and loud tunes that making the car vibrate. But they as well are safe way of getting around and I’ve never heard of anything bad happen (in Mexico City though you should only take licensed Taxis and check for the Taxi driver’s name and taxi number, just in case :) ). Taxis are very cheap here. Actually there is also the normal kind, and then there is the Taxi Pirata. Those are taxis that look like normal cars, and don’t say taxi, but they provide the same services. You just call them and order one and it will be A LOT cheaper. Also a great way to travel. As always and as in any other country I’d recommend to the girls to travel at least with one other person, but seriously Merida is very very safe – and nothing ever happens here.

Merida is used to tourism because it is a beautiful city with lots of history and amazing architecture. Lots of Americans and Canadians come here and buy a cheap colonial houses that need renovation and turn them into beautiful palaces. So you will certainly find extranjeros in downtown Merida, which also helps with feeling safe :)

So, I can just say that I haven’t had any trouble with the transportation in Merida. I’ve been able to get anywhere by bus or taxi and I’ve actually had a bus driver taking me in his huge bus through the tiny streets to get me all the way to the house where I live because it was late and he was an elderly person who said that “he doesn´t want a young lady to be waiting alone in the street at night.” Again, a proof of Yucatecan hospitality :)

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