The outdoor waiting room of the bus station in Nogales, Sonora was under a high metal roof with horticultural shade screens bungeed to the two-story posts. It had three rows of ripped-out bus seats, with about a dozen or so recently deported migrants slouched wide-eyed in the afternoon heat, some of them eating chicharrónes soaked in hot sauce and lime juice. I sat down in the second row and watched a teenage boy, the son of the woman who ran the food stall, whistle and tease a small parrot in a cage. His two younger siblings, a girl about five and a boy about three, rescued an injured sparrow they found in one of the spidery, cat-piss corners, and then spent a half an hour squeezing and petting the poor bird, screaming at it when it tried desperately (and ineffectively) to fly away until the kids’ mother came over to… More…

The bus thumps across the Bay Bridge, over Treasure Island, past container ships and massive cranes, a yard of cargo boxes, the Horizon and Hapag-Lloyd lines, and under a wren of overpasses. I switch seats because my light is broken, then switch again because the seat cloth is torn. In Oakland, young men wearing baseball caps with flattened brims board. The driver addresses us.

 

“If you have kids, control them. If you have those walkie-talkie phones, try not to use them. It sounds like a police car in here, and that’s not good. If you have beers, don’t drink them…”

My destination is Mexico City, a four-and-a-half-hour plane trip from San Francisco, but a 60-hour journey by bus. I want to see the world’s largest city, but even more appealing is the ride to get there. Buses are… More…