Business unexpectedly took me to Ciudad del Carmen, in our neighboring state of Campeche this week. I’d passed through there before, but this was the first time I had the questionable ‘pleasure’ of overnighting there.
Ciudad del Carmen was a small city mostly devoted to fishing until the 1970s when oil was discovered in the region; since then it has grown and developed substantially. The oil industry (and businesses supporting it) is now the overwhelming reason for the existence of the city, which is correspondingly unappealing to the casual visitor. Check any website related to the city, and one of the main ‘attractions’ mentioned will be ‘El Zacatal Bridge’. Yes, a bridge. If bridge viewing is not your thing, then it’s probably a good idea to keep right on going through Ciudad del Carmen, although it’s worth a stop to admire the stunning beach scenery alongside the road between Champoton and Isla Aguada.
What this trip did remind me of however is the quality and value provided by the long distance bus services in Mexico, which have been the main method of travel around the country for decades, and continue to be, although the low-cost airlines are starting to make inroads in this area. I traveled from Merida to Ciudad del Carmen by ADO GL, part of the ADO transport group. The GL service is considered ‘executive’, meaning extra legroom, more comfortable seats, two onboard toilets, and for me, the most valuable amenity, the fact that sound for the onboard movies is delivered via individual headphones (provided) rather than broadcast over the onboard PA system, meaning that if you don’t wish to hear the soundtrack for the continual movies, you don’t have to! Value, compared with a similar journey in Europe or the USA is excellent – the 5 hour 30 minute journey cost $418 pesos. The same journey on ‘regular’ ADO (1st class service – only one onboard toilet and broadcast movie soundtracks) costs $358 pesos, and on ADO Platino (luxury service with 2 toilets, seats that recline way back complete with leg rests, only three seats abreast, and individual movie screens) runs $536 pesos. I’ve taken the Platino service before between Merida and Cancun, and it is indeed an extremely comfortable experience.
If you need to make a long journey in the region, and the bus is the easiest or most convenient way, don’t be scared to do it, the ADO group services will take you where you want to go in comfort and safety.
What else this week? Feria Yucatan has started at the fairgrounds at Xmatkuil, to the south of the city. Check the website at http://www.feriayucatan.gob.mx/2013/ for schedules, maps, and more information.
And on Monday, the opening of a unique temporary restaurant at Universidad del Valle de Mexico – run by the catering students at the Glion School for a month every year. This year’s project is called “Chaud Devant” and will be offering breakfast and lunch with a mix of French and Mexican cuisine. Watch this space for a report and more information.