January, 9, 2020
The morning was taken up with washing and showering. After lunch we decided to take a random bus to see where it went. We went out to the road and it happened that the first bus that came along was the regular bus we took into town. We decided to just get on but instead of getting off at our normal stop we would stay on and see where it took us. As I got on the bus I could hear again all the warnings people had given us about Mexico. According to them it is probably lucky we haven’t been robbed or murdered yet.
I am a seasoned traveler. I have travelled to over 26 countries including some that are normally considered adventurous or dangerous such as Colombia, Cambodia and India. In all those travels, I have never had a problem, not even pickpocketed. I credit that to not drinking alcohol, not being plain stupid and a certain savvy about travelling. If you stay with the herd and stick to the tourist areas and don’t get drunk you are generally going to be fine. Many places have special tourist police that patrol tourist areas and investigate crimes against tourists so targeting tourists is riskier than targeting a normal citizen. Too much bad press and the tourists go away which would make many rich and powerful people who own the hotels and amusements very unhappy. Not to mention the government itself which enjoys the abundant taxes they collect from tourism.
Tourists are usually considered the golden goose. Governments, rebels, and organized crime generally avoid targeting tourists for violent crimes. It is so much simpler to either scam or just overcharge tourists. After all, tourists arrive at a destination to give their money away. Anything that scares away tourists and their money is simply counterproductive. There are always exceptions of course but other than pickpocketing or thievery, it is usually safer to travel than stay at home.
That all being said, I think riding on a random bus is one of the more dangerous things to do. You are specifically seeking to leave the safety of the herd and go off alone into the unknown. You could easily end up in a bad part of town with some rather unsavory and desperate people. Every city has one. You know that one neighborhood with the high crime statistics. You are alone, don’t know the language, don’t know how to get around and are probably carrying around enough money, camera and electronic equipment to tempt someone living in a hut. More likely you will find yourself in a boring residential or industrial neighborhood.
I judged San Miguel to be safe enough to have this little adventure. San Miguel is not a very large city so that is generally safer and the bus couldn’t go that far anyway. I speak enough Spanish to, if not exactly converse, enough to travel around. I had observed an abundance of taxi’s around. I might be able to get an Uber if we got totally lost. Also with the advent of GPS, it was unlikely that we could get totally lost. Also it was one in the afternoon so we had plenty of daylight.
So the bus passed our normal stop and within 10 minutes came to the end of the line. Everyone got off and we found ourselves on the street next to a stinking stream on the west side of the city. I can’t even say we got lost because I could see the main church on the hill and knew exactly where we were. Our first stop was a nearby playground where Olivia played for a while. Olivia even made friends with some local kids that did not speak any English. Toys, enthusiasm, hand gestures and an occasional Excellente is enough for Olivia to find friends anywhere.
We then walked through a covered shopping area selling mostly clothes and toys to find ourselves at the Mercado De San Juan De Dios a cleaner, less crowded with larger aisles version of Ignacio Ramírez Market we had visited a few days before. It had fruit and vegetable stalls, meat stalls, food stalls and even a drink stall where we stopped to have a lukewarm strawberry milkshake. This was much better than Ignacio Ramirez Market with more choices and less tourists, although we did pass by several people speaking English.
As it was early we didn’t buy anything yet and Holly wanted to do some schooling with Olivia so we went in search of a café to sit. Checking on the map I saw that we were near Zumo, a rooftop restaurant rated #10 out of 421 restaurants in San Miguel. We got there at 3 and were told that the restaurant would close at 4 for a special event. No problem, we just wanted drinks, a snack and a place to sit for a while. We rode up a glass elevator to the roof and found that Zumo was very stylishly decorated, had amazing views of the main church and surrounding city and had prices to match. We got three waters and an appetizer of ceviche and it came out to over 300 pesos or around US$16. Each water was over US$2.50! Their coffee cost less than the bottle of water. A full set meal cost $58 without drinks which I guess would be a little bit cheaper than an equivalent restaurant in the US.
While the décor and view were spectacular we were disappointed with the food. The ceviche was just fish and they had not put enough lime juice in so it still had a strong raw fish taste. Holly took one bite and refused to eat more. I asked for more lime juice and finished the food but I also did not like it that much. We only had that one dish so I can’t really pass judgement on their food in general but I will say that you should go to Zumo for the view but don’t get the ceviche.
We lingered until 4 when we left and walked to Juárez Park so that Olivia could play for a while. There were not many kids there and we left after a half hour to hurry back to the San Juan De Dios Market where we purchased groceries before catching our bus home.