Monday, November 28, 2005

Public Transport & Evolution

Some more information on public transport. Please note that pictures only convey one small part of the experience, as they do not include smells, sounds, and details.

Here is a bus, known as a Micro, in the neighborhood of Las Lomas, on the outskirts of the city (which is where one of the projects where I work is located). The cheapest way to get around, they cost Bs.1 per trip... and are definitely sized for locals. The first time I rode a Micro, I didn´t know exactly where I was or where I was going, but was counting on visual stimuli to figure it out. Too bad I got on and all the seats were taken, which left me standing with a bent neck (roof was too low for me to stand straight) and the windows at knee-level! I made it to my destination, but had to walk a chunk of the way, ahem.

This here is refered to as a Mini. Most Minis have screamers (explained in the "Face your Fears" post), and cost between Bs.1-2.30 depending on how far you are going. There is no standing room, and very little legroom. On the plus side, they do go faster than the Micro-crawl, which is what generally makes it worth the extra cash.

Note: Both Micros and Minis often have stickers inside which read "No Fume" (don't smoke) and "No Escupe" (don´t spit). Ah, the joys of a developing country!

Public transport here is extremely efficient. Between Micros and Minis, you can get from any point A to any point B without too much hassle (or too much walking, if you are lazy). Complemented by Trufis (shared taxis, which cost an average of Bs.3), Taxis (Bs.3 to travel within the downtown area, Bs.6 to go far, and Bs.12 to go way down to the area where I currently live), and Radiotaxis (the safest at night but also more expensive - Bs.6 to travel within an area and Bs.12-18 to go far)... owning a car is silly. It has to be said, however, that you only get fined if you dangerously run a red light when a cop is present or if you go against traffic...

But - it has to be said - driving here is based VERY loosely on traffic laws and regulations, and much more on the law of the jungle. People honk when overtaking to make sure they don´t get run into, right of way is to whoever gets to the intersection first and is the most daring and has the bigger car... Quite fascinating, except for the fact that when you observe this, your life is generally at stake! Natural selection of sorts? Either way, it makes you appreciate being a live.


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