Life is what's happening while you're busy making other plans

07 mai 2010

Buses in South America

So far, we've done over 200 hours of bus, which is the equivalent of more than 8 full days. So there is quite a bit to say about buses in south america.

The driver always has a "helper". Who is there to shout out the destination of the bus and it's stops to attract people, and to cash in the price of the ticket. Even if you get on the bus at the bus terminal, you don't actually need to buy your ticket beforehand, just get on the bus and at some point the helper will come asking for the fare.
>The other day, we took a bus from Latacunga to Quilotoa, a little village of about 15 houses. It was a 2.5 hour bus ride, so we got on, paid our fair to the helper, who was the driver's son, approx 13 years old, and we dozed off to sleep. About half way through the bus ride, I woke up and looked towards the driver's seat... who was driving? Yup, the 13 year old kid!

Often, people will come into the bus selling food or health products. Those who sell health products always make long speeches of about 20-30 minutes. They speak a bit about hygiene and the consequences of having bad hygiene etc. There's a good side and a bad side to this. The good side is that they educate people a little, telling them to brush their teeth 3 times a day, for 3 minutes etc. But the bad side is also that they will say anything under the moon.
> I don't remember where we were going, but once we were on a bus and a guy came in to sell a health product. I didn't pay much attention at first, but then when he started showing pictures of inflammed testicules, I have to admit, he got my attention. When I started listening he was explaining that there were many different kinds of cancers: skin cancer, lung cancer, testicular cancer, cervical cancer etc. Then he said that 85% of ecuadorian women suffered from cervical cancer !!!!! I'd like to know where he got that number from. Then he said "When women have their period, this is when they should be the most careful with their hygiene. But most women don't take care when they have their period. What do they do? They go out drinking and dancing! They have sex!"... LITERALY! He literaly said that. Then he went on to testicular cancer... What are the causes of testicular cancer? he asked... "smoking, drinking, drugs" (hmm, ok fair enough, bad lifestyle..) but also "having sex with women during their period and masturbating"... Once again, he literaly said that! Then he went on to present his product, a box of pills that will keep you healthy. (Does that mean it prevents cancer?) How do you take it? Always at meal time, either before lunch if you want to lose weight, or after lunch if you want to gain weight!!! So basically, this guy was selling a pill that prevents cancer (even if you masturbate!) and helps you either lose or gain weight! Well I know many people who would want that miracle pill! Incredible!

Stealing. Always be vigilant of pickpockets in buses. We never put our bags in the overhead stow, we always put them between our feet. Usually I have one foot on my bag... but once I just left my bag on the floor and started reading. Then suddenly I got a weird feeling and realised that my bag was no longer at my feet. I stuck my foot back under my seat, but it wasn't there either. We were only 10 minutes into the bus ride, and we hadn't stopped anywhere so I knew my bag had to be there somewhere. I turned around, and just as I did, there was the guy in the seat behind me getting up to change seat. What was in his hand? My backpack! I was so suprised to see it that I didn't even think of shouting at him, i just said "im sorry, that's my bag there", and he pretended to be suprised and said "oh, is it?". I grabbed it out of his hands and sat back down. He went to the front of the bus and go out at the next stop.

In Peru, if you take a direct bus between two cities, the buses are usually much more luxurious and don't stop for people to get in and sell food. The two most luxurious bus companies offer a little snack and have a stewardess on board. In one of the buses we took, the steward organised a little Bingo in the evening! The winner got his return ticket for free!

Posté par wendorej à 23:22 - South America - Permalien [#] Partager