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Puerto Vallarta: Getting around by bus

Kathryn and I recently spent seven days in Puerto Vallarta. Other than the rides between the airport and our resort, we did not use a taxi once. All our travel around Puerto Vallarta and the surrounding areas was on the local buses.

It was a great experience. We had a chance to see parts of the city we probably wouldn’t have seen by taxi. We watched drivers navigate narrow lanes on cobblestone streets at impossible speeds. We cringed as manual transmissions were grinding through their gears. We watched passengers get picked up and dropped off when the bus didn’t appear to have come to a full stop. And we did all this for 6.5 pesos per ride.

That’s about 50 cents for a trip anywhere in Puerto Vallarta. A bargain at twice the price.

Using the bus was a little daunting at first, since the drivers speak little English, and we speak little Spanish. It wasn’t problem. As it turns out, if you can count to two or three or four and know the words for yes and no in Spanish, you can ride the bus. If we weren’t sure the bus was going where we wanted to go, we just said the name of the place to the driver and waited for him to say or no. Easy, right? The fare is always the same on the city routes, so that was no challenge. Usually we wanted to tell the driver we were paying for two passengers. That’s where the numbers came in.

In short, we probably learned all the Spanish we needed to ride the local buses from an episode of Sesame Street when we were four.