Taking the metro in metropolitan Mexico City

Before I started to write this blog contribution, I was not really sure which example I should take and reflect on it. But I must say in the aspect of a cultural practice, it is quite difficult for me to choose an example, as I grew up in a Latin American household where the culture is pretty similar to the one I have experienced in Mexico. Still, there was something that impacted me. It was the first time that I lived in a big city, a cosmopolitan metropolis with a population that includes more than over 20 million people in one place.

At the beginning (and it remained so until the end of my stay) it was a bit overwhelming, because you have to mind the traffic, as they do not have traffic lights in most streets, so you have always to take care when you are crossing the streets. In such a big city there is always something going on the streets or in public transport. Something that had great impact on me, or let’s say something that was completely new for me was public transport.

At first I was really scared to take the metro during rush hour, as it was nearly impossible to get myself in. It takes a bit of “or you survive or I survive” mentality to get a little space in the metro. And as soon as you got in, you have to make sure that you can get off at the right stop. Usually one stop before mine, I had to start pushing through the crowd to get off at my stop. My Swiss education did not help me a lot, as I was not used to pushing people and to being a bit rude. So I had to learn to adapt (to survive in rush hour) and learned to push people, to speak with them so they would let me out. But until the end, it was always a stressful moment and I always took good places in the car so that I would be able to get off easily.

But it also happened that the crowd who wanted to get off pushed me out and then it was impossible for me to get on again. This happened and so my train left without me and I had to wait for another one. Once, and I think I will never forget this anymore, a couple got on the metro on rush hour – I think they were tourists – and they lost three stops because they were not able to get off the train. They laughed and actually everyone in the car started to laugh and finally helped them to get off the metro.

Being in the metro during rush hour steals a lot of your energy, you have to be aware of pickpockets, it is really hot, you don’t have enough space for yourself, you have to push and it also happens that the metro stops and does not continue moving for fifteen minutes (mostly in the rainy season). There were several moments when I had to calm myself down, usually when the metro stopped in the middle of the way in a tunnel, and I was stressed knowing that I was locked up in that metro without fresh air, a small space for myself and a lot of people. Here is a small photo that I have found on Google that shows exactly the situation during rush hour in the public transport in Mexico City. The first one shows the amount of people waiting to get into the metro and the second one shows you exactly the fight to get in and out.

Getting in
People waiting for the metro in Mexico City
People getting in and out of the metro in Mexico City

Linh Ramirez

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