Prone to Wander

“On the Road” in Mexico City

1.17I’m reading On the Road by Jack Kerouac, and there are some interesting descriptions of Mexico City in one of the sections of the book that I thought I would share with you here. Some things still ring true – the noise, the traffic, and the wide variety of people running after and jumping on buses that never stop. And some things have changed since the 50’s – for example, nobody is barefoot! My favorite passage is about the pesero bus drivers who sit low in the crazy buses wearing T-shirts and who are “sneering and insane.” It’s the perfect description – it really is! And I know exactly what he’s talking about when he describes the old women at puestos that sell various tacos in newspaper napkins. If you haven’t come to visit us yet… you really need to come see this crazy beloved noisy circus that is Mexico City!

“Then the city roared in and suddenly we were passing crowded cafes and theaters and many lights. Newsboys yelled at us. Mechanics slouched by, barefoot, with wrenches and rags. Mad barefoot Indian drivers cut across us and surrounded us and tooted and made frantic traffic. The noise was incredible. No mufflers are used on Mexican cars. Horns are batted with glee continual.”

“People, even old ladies, ran for buses that never stopped. Young Mexico City businessmen made bets and ran by squads for buses and athletically jumped them. The bus-drivers were barefoot, sneering and insane, and sat low and squat in T-shirts at the low, enormous wheels. Ikons burned over them. The lights in the buses were brown and greenish, and dark faces were lined on wooden benches.”

“Beggars slept wrapped in advertising posters torn off fences. Whole families of them sat on the sidewalk, playing little flutes and chuckling in the night. Their bare feet stuck out, their dim candles burned, all Mexico was one vast Bohemian camp. On corners old women cut up the boiled heads of cows and wrapped morsels in tortillas and served them with hot sauce on newspaper napkins.”

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