When I reflect upon the various drivers who have transported me within countries as diverse as The Gambia, Papua New Guinea and Pakistan, I am struck by the contribution these men have made to my understanding of their homelands and the enjoyment of my time spent there.
For many years, the professional services of a driver came with my work assignments. The drivers were responsible, not only to move me about, but also to sensitize me to local customs, guide me through the labyrinth of rules and regulations and most importantly keep me safe. Although not mentioned in their job description, I soon discovered that these men opened a gateway into the lives of the people I was observing from a distance.
On a recent visit to Mexico, I was reminded once again of the value drivers can bring to a visitor’s experience of place. While looking on websites for accommodation in the city of Morelia, I discovered a small B&B called Casa Rosa. As I read the comments by travellers, I noticed that many of them expressed enthusiasm about the transportation services provided by Jesús Lopez.
Riding the buses to Mexico’s colonial cities
The amazing journey of the Monarch butterfly
Several months later, my husband and I had the pleasure of visiting Morelia and enjoying two daytrips with Mr. Lopez. On one trip, we travelled to the El Rosario Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary in the mountains west of Mexico City near the town of Ocampo. On our second daytrip, we travelled to Lake Patzcuaro, stopping along the way to shop in Indian villages—each specializing in a particular craft, eventually reaching the lovely town of Patzcuaro where we dined in the Plaza Grande.
May I introduce Tom Harrisson, the barefoot anthropologist of Borneo
May I introduce Rigo, a tour guide in Todos Santos, Guatemala
May I introduce Jim, a Tibetan who runs a hotel filled with westerners in Dali, China
May I introduce an Aussie who runs a B&B in Cambodia
As often happens with these arrangements, Mr. Lopez acted as a guide as much as a driver. He took us to places we would not have found on our own, showed us the area’s most splendid vistas and gave us a taste of the many delights that the region offers—all the while telling stories about his state, his nation, his family and his customers.
Once again my appreciation for a part of the world, new to me, was greatly enhanced by the company of a man who happily shared his experiences while showing us his home—another brief but memorable connection between strangers.
To contact Jesús Lopez, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Barbara Reinhardus
Photo credits Barbara Reinhardus
© Riding the buses