Rudd On The Road
By Steve Rudd
Part Eight: All Aboard 'The Nerve-Shredder' to Puebla!
I really couldn't blame the lady at the ticket counter for giving me such a puzzled look. After all, I had just asked for a ticket counter instead of a ticket.
I was at the main bus station in Oaxaca City, Mexico, intent on buying a ticket north to Puebla. Having clocked numerous signs emblazoned with the world Taquiller, I wrongly assumed that such a word was the Spanish for Tickets. In truth, its literal translation was Ticket Counter, hence the stony silence with which my bizarre request was met when I said the following: 'Una taquiller por Puebla, por favor.' As sentences in Spanish went, it was a bona fide clanger of truly humiliating proportions.
It was therefore a minor miracle that I eventually found myself aboard a coach bound for Puebla, one of the most-visited cities in Mexico due to its wealth of churches and colonial architecture.
Prior to pulling out of the station, a female security guard edged along the gangway wielding a camcorder, filming the faces of every single passenger on board in case something untoward occurred during the course of the impending four and a half hour journey. Such a procedure wasn't out of the ordinary in any respect. Indeed, Mexico at large is a country that is nothing if not security-conscious. Actually, I'd go further than that and duly proclaim Mexico to be a country that is security-obsessed.
It's not only at public transport terminals where security is tight, but also in most shops on any given high street in towns and cities across the land.
For instance, I went shopping with a friend on the first night of my stay in Mexico. Indulging in a spot of innocent food-shopping in a supermarket, I tried to not let the presence of two private security guards armed with rifles affect my ability to place products in our trolley.
At one point I was so paranoid that they were following us around the store that I over-elaborated every motion I made from shelf to trolley. The last thing I wanted was for them to think that I was attempting to shop-lift: the consequences could have been dire.
Stern-faced, gun-toting guards are actively on patrol in almost any retail environment where there is a cash-desk inside of which reasonable amounts of cash are easily accessible to would-be thieves.
Given such tight levels of security, if I were a thief, I'd certainly think more than twice before making a lunge for an open drawer of pesos.
Security aside, personal safety is another issue which Mexicans take extremely seriously. Literally sitting in line with the locals, I understood why as our bus lurched along a particularly mountainous stretch of road on the way to Puebla.
The scenery was breathtaking, but the sheer drop to our left hastened to bring out my sensible side.
Without hesitation, I belted up, not least because our driver was evidently determined to reach Puebla in record time, speeding around a succession of blind corners seemingly oblivious to the hazards they presented.
Remarkably, we eased into Puebla's huge CAPU terminal at precisely 1:30 a.m., not a second after our scheduled arrival time. Leaving the bus, I felt inclined to shake the driver's sweat-riddled hand. Rarely had I experienced a piece of driving like the one I'd just witnessed. It had been downright dangerous from the off.
However, surmising that some people regularly pay good money for similar experiences on rollercoasters, I looked on the bright side, thanking him with great reverence for what had been quite possibly the scariest ride of my life.
Places to Visit - Rudd On The Road Part Seven: City Living in the South of Mexico By Steve Rudd
What's a non-Spanish-speaking Englishman to do when he arrives in an unfamiliar city in the south of Mexico at the crack of dawn? In my experience, he lumbers over to the nearest beverage vendor whilst pawing in his pockets for money, hoping he's got enough loose change on his being to bag him a hot drink.
'What do you fancy?' asked Salvador, a pal from Ibiza who I'd met in Mexico City.
Places to Visit - Rudd On The Road Part Six: A Storm Over Troubled Pyramids By Steve Rudd
Should any visitor to Mexico City be in need of a little fresh air or a drastic change of scenery, a visit to Teotihuacan comes highly recommended. Languishing some fifty kilometers north of the city centre, it makes for a simple day out, and it can be reached either by public bus or through one of the many tour companies operating out of Mexico City.
Places to Visit - Rudd On The Road Part 5 Mexico City: A Beginners Guide By Steve Rudd
It's no mean feat getting to grips with what is purported to be the most populous city on Planet Earth, yet once you get your bearings, Mexico City is a deceptively simple place to get around, whether on foot or courtesy of public transport.
But where to go first?
The most obvious place to kick-start one's exploratory forays in Mexico City is at its main
Places to Visit - Rudd On The Road Part 4 Cheap thrills on the Mexico City metro By Steve Rudd
If you think travelling on The London Underground can be stressful at times, spare a thought for the millions of people who use Mexico City's Metro System every day, especially during peak hours when folk are attempting to get backwards and forwards to work.
Having said that, rattling along at high speed beneath the streets of Mexico City is an exhilarating experience not to be missed.
Places to Visit - Rudd On The Road Part 3 A chance encounter with a city full of surprises... By Steve Rudd
Ensconced in LA to write like never before, I didn't get much chance to make myself at home in Los Angeles before being offered a different writing job entirely, courtesy of a well-connected friend of a friend.
Vowing to return to LA as soon as possible, I promptly found myself heading back to LAX where I boarded a Mexicana flight direct to Mexico City, a short-haul of just four hours
Places to Visit - Rudd On The Road Part 2 By Steve Rudd
As I bustled onto an empty shuttle bus bound for Downtown LA, I reflected that the way I'd been granted access into the US this time around was a far-cry from the way in which I'd been 'processed' on my previous trip when I'd touched down at JFK airport in New York.
Back in 2006, on the cusp of a mad sixty day dash around the states via 'Greyhound' bus, the Customs official at JFK had wanted to know almost everything about me.
Places to Visit - Cusco, Peru - La Ultima Cena Con Cuy By Ruth
The flight from Puerto Maldonado was uneventful. The flight attendant served coca tea, Inca Cola, and Cusqueno beer to interested passengers. The city of Cusco, the historic capital of the Inca Empire, sits in the Andes Mountains. The elevation is roughly 11,000 feet. The updrafts buffeted the plane a bit during landing.
At the airport, old women peddling bags of coca leaves crowded towards the passengers.
Places to Visit - Rudd On The Road - Catching up with Steve Rudd as he hits America in style ... Part 1 By Steve Rudd
The flight from London to LA was a long haul to say the least, yet it was made more tolerable by the company. I'd barely got settled when the guy beside me introduced himself as Jim Becket, a film director and documentary producer who lived in a place called Ojai, a little north of Los Angeles. He'd just returned from working in Athens where he'd sold the rights of his latest documentary to
Places to Visit - Playing Chicken In Turkey Part 1 By Steve Rudd
It wasn't the best welcome to Turkey. It was the dead of night, we'd just crossed the border, yet there I was, beside a Mancunian called Liam, being frog marched back to the tiny hut that issued visas. Upon crossing the border, us English lads had been issued the correct visa, but the official had inexplicably neglected to stamp the visas with our entry date.
Places to Visit - Roaming Around Romania By Steve Rudd
I was worried. It was four a.m., I was on a train bound for Bucharest, and somebody was tugging at my bed sheets from below. Coming around from a bout of deep sleep, I urged my weary eyes to focus. They were having none of it though, refusing point blank to reveal the person before me.
'Is there a problem?' I asked, hoping that a response might bowl my way in English.
Places to Visit - Gibraltar and La Linea, Spain By Mo
Recently I went on a week long trip to Gibraltar and La LÍnea, Spain staying with my mum and dad in their La Linea flat. My twin sister and her boyfriend were also at the flat on holiday for a week and had rented a small car booked online for only 60 quid for the week. I think that included car insurance too so a pretty good deal.
They all met me at Gibraltar airport and we walked across the border with Spain
Places to Visit - The London, Bath and Bristol Chronicles By Steve Rudd
I knew I should have taken the train. Being stuck behind a combine harvester is never fun in a car. In a coach, it's murder. The battalion of towering power-line supports that stoically marched across the dead level Lincolnshire landscape didn't help. From their indifferent vantage point, they simply taunted.
'Technology is overtaking everything,' said the woman in front, Read more...
Places to Visit - Kate Langan's Travel Journal - Thailand
Tonight we ate at a Thai Taverna, there was a baby elephant going by so Becky took my photo. We are staying in Phuket also as we have found a really nice basic room that's really cheap. It's clean and got 4 stone walls - not like the wood hut! I loved the wood hut but was bitten to death by the mozzies. No mozzies here - yey! And I'm not a huge fan of the cockroaches!
Places to Visit - The Three Peaks Of Yorkshire Challenge 10th June 2006 By Steve Rudd
'Good morning gentlemen - rise and shine!' As I slowly came to my senses I couldn't
help but glance at my watch. I'd been warned the previous night that we would be
woken up at 4:15am sharp, and barely a second later.
Unfortunately, that really was the case, and as exhausted as I was, there
was a mammoth 25 mile walk ahead...
It's a shame that I'd only managed
Places to Visit - A Weekend in Amsterdam By Dave F
Amsterdam is a city of freedom which instantly appeals on a lot of levels.
What's the point of a holiday if you don't have the freedom to go and do what you want, when you want?
If, like me, you want to wander aimlessly from coffee shop to coffee shop getting as
stoned as humanly possible whilst ogling half-naked women through dirty windows
and snacking heavily along the way,
Places to Visit - Christmas in Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka By Dave F
I hate Christmas for too many reasons to mention and the chance to get away from it
all this year it was an opportunity too good to pass up. Knowing someone with a
house in Sri Lanka which stands empty for 9 months every year definitely has its benefits.
I'm travelling with a mate and his daughter who've been here several times before
so I get some insight
Places to Visit - Skiing In Bulgaria - Part Two By Steve Rudd
Giant Christmas trees loomed as far as the eye could see below, as I marvelled
at the extraordinary engineering it must take to make a gondola a reality.
After the thirty-minute ride to the top we were immediately greeted by a
stunning panorama of the surrounding countryside which was beautiful beyond words.
So pristine and so serene.
Well, serene if you can discount the
Places to Visit - Skiing In Bulgaria - Part One By Steve Rudd
I could have thought of worst places to be, seeing in the New Year, as the last
second of 2005 ticked over into 2006. Happy New Year indeed.
For the best part of the past ten years myself and my friends have contented
ourselves with heading into the town centre of Driffield every December 31st
for one of the few nights of the year when it genuinely hustles and bustles.
Places to Visit - Walking The Pembrokeshire Coastal Path - Part One By Steve Rudd
Get out of the city and into the country, sooner rather than later.
A great many people genuinely have no idea how scenically diverse and breathtaking some
swathes of countryside are in the UK, and such a fact is a great shame,
because while they might be spending all their spare time in dirty and cramped
urban environments, there's often fresh air and inspirational
Places to Visit - Thailand By Rich Mills
Expressing the experience of being here in Thailand is difficult to put into words.
The sensorial experience is so mind blowing that you begin to feel overloaded.
However it is the smallest of things that grab your attention, and stick in the mind.
We are waiting for a taxi to take us down to the ferry, so that we can go
over to the small island of Koh Maak.
This is where we will get the full
Places to Visit - Ostend Weekend By John Allbones
I needed a break. Well, you just do sometimes don't you?
The constant day to day drudge of the nine to five erodes your spirit until a
change of scene is all you crave. Nothing fancy, just a few days will do.
Preferably abroad, it just seems more of a break when you're on foreign soil.
I managed to grab a late deal on a long weekend in Ostend.
So desperate was I to get away,
Places to Visit - Eight Feet and Two Weeks On Crete Part 2 by Steve Rudd
One of the best ways of exploring the huge island of Crete is by car: in your own time, at
your own speed and in your own style.
Without the stress and cost of embarking on guided tours.
Head into any of Crete's major cities such as
Hania, Rethymno or Iraklion and you'll be bombarded by rent-a-vehicle establishments, all
of which are fiercely trying to