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Frequently Asked Questions / What If’s

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¿How did you all come up with this idea?

In 1990, cross cultural visual artists Toni Hafter and Lalo Obregon had the opportunity to create something for Festival 2000 that would hopefully bring people together and at the same time introduce San Francisco to a little bit of popular Mexican culture. They found themselves researching buses in Mexico City, and El Volado, a special vehicle with a special purpose was born, traversing the divisions of culture, race, and age. 10 years of operating has proved that dancing, color, music and joy can surely transform our environment and our perceptions of "the other."

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Cultural History

Up until twenty years ago passengers in Mexico City could still enjoy riding in unconventional style on a city bus. In those days, which began in the thirties with the expansion of public transportation, bus drivers were assigned their own buses in which they often worked a grueling fifteen hour day.

Because of the long hours spent inside their vehicles, buses became extensions of each man’s personal taste. All sorts of objects connected with the passions and interests of the drivers filled the front compartments. Elements of sports, wrestling heroes, religious icons, film stars and of course favorite musicians could always be seen in amusing contrast to a baroque interior splashed in colored light. Saint Cristobal, the patron saint of bus drivers and a miniature altar dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe always graced the front of the cabin.

Passengers and passerby’s would delight in the garish parade of colored lights running along the length of the buses inside and out as well as on the front and rear. When the driver pushed the brakes, the dash would light up and a mandatory blue glass Nivea creme jar would flash momentarily. Popular proverbs and jokes were painted carefully by hand on the walls of the interior and often one would see a host of names of favorite girlfriends engraved into the mirror suspended above the drivers head.

Drivers kept up their spirits by playing their favorite music at top level treating their captive audiences to a medley of romantic love songs or tropical mambos and rhumbas, depending on his mood. Frequently a driver would allow a troubadour to come on board and earn his bread by entertaining the passengers with a few tunes. Once one was inside, each bus took on a life of it’s own as its driver was free to create and control the scenarios.

Similar traditions of decorating public vehicles exist in Central and South America, India, the Philippines and South Africa and it is from this Mexican tradition that some Mexican American low riders have been inspired to decorate their own vehicles.

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¿What If We Lost Something On Board?

The Mexican Bus is not responsible for items lost during the evening. Cell phones, cameras, jackets and rings are continually left on board. If you think you left something and we find it we’ll hold it for a week only. Please call our office to arrange to pick it up.

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