For my trip between Valladolid and Merida I decided to save a bit of money and take the 2nd class bus. It was leaving right away so I hopped aboard without stopping for a pee break (bad, bad, bad idea) with the vague idea that the bus trip should take around 2 hours. Wrong. Very, very wrong.

The first thing I realized as the bus pulled away from the terminal was that I needed to go to the bathroom. The second thing I realized was that 2nd class busses don’t have bathrooms on board. Immediately regretting the bottle of water I’d just chugged I crossed my legs and tried to focus on the scenery passing outside my window.

Until now I’d either taken first class busses or traveled at night so I’d not really seen much off the main highways. I could quickly tell that this trip would be different. The bus I was on – and I was the only gringa on the bus – was clearly going to stop at every village (and sometimes there wasn’t a village – people just seemed to appear out of nowhere) we passed through and while it was aggravating for my bladder it made for an interesting ride.

Traveling down the side roads of Mexico you pass through villages of stick and mud huts or cinder block houses with no windows or doors, most of which with the interior painted blue and a colorful hammock as the only furnishing. Villages which may not have names and are definitely not on any maps. Small groups of people and livestock (usually more livestock than people) with rocky gardens surrounded by stone walls. It’s a far cry from the huge resorts you see in Cancun and Playa. The poverty is apparent but the smiles on the faces and the waves at the busses are genuine and make me glad that I skipped the highway and took the long way round. Even the fact that the ride took 4 hours instead of 2 and dropped me off 8 blocks further away from my destination didn’t change the fact that I was glad to have seen more of how some of the less fortunate live.