September 15, 2009

Padre Solano

So the buses are crazy here.

Everyday I take the yellow Padre Solano bus from Duran into Guayaquil. The buses here stop for women, and slow down for men. I normally get picked up at bus stops so I rarely have to ¨catch a bus¨- but there are opportunities

The strategy is to grab on to a bar on the outside of the bus, hold on to it tightly, and then plant your left foot on the first step. Then your Golden. But its not as easy as it sounds. The first couple times I tried this, I wasnt so graceful. My balance was off and I more or less wabbled onto the bus. I never fell, but I never got onto the bus as smoothly as I would have liked.

Today was my opportunity. I knew it- As I was leaving Damien House to go home, I saw that yellow Padre Solano bus from a distance, waved it down, and thought- Today is my day. The bus slowed down, but had not intention of stopping for me. This was my opportunity. To catch a moving bus. As the distance closed in I jogged for towards it. I reached my right hand out, got a good grip, and jumped into the bus. So smooth. I did it. I reached into my pocket to give the driver 50 cents. I waited for my change with a grin on my face, it was my first time, and I felt like a local. I was pretty bummed when he gave me back a lot of bronze coins. As looked down into my right hand full of pennies, with my left hand holding my notebook, the driver slammed on the breaks as hard as he could, throwing me down the two steps and into the windshield. I got air and as I actually managed to stay on my feet with my notebook in hand, and I didn't lose one of those pennies. But I did lose my opportunity execute catchîng a rolling bus with grace. I regained my balance with a grin on my face, as I looked for an open seat...

The bus rides are very entertaining here. Every driver is different. Some are convinced that they are Sean Paul, from the shades, to the reggaetone bumping, to the towel around their neck, to the amount of hair gel they use, to their popped collars. Every one is different, but they all drive like Jeff Gordon on the congested two-way narrow streets of Duran, going about 50 mph and weaving through dogs, people, chickens, and street vendors.

Some have friends that they pick up on the way that help them harrass people to get on the bus. There is no equilivent in America, it is truly a special relationship. These sidekicks like to lean out the door with one foot hanging over the road on the highway as they wave their towels to people on the streets.

And then there are the beggers. EVERY ride, someone gets on the bus and tells there story. They are people who show scars, sing songs, play a guitar, sell candy,do a tandom rap, dress up as a clown, or do a theology lecture.

Then there are the street vendors. They sell icecream, candy, drinks, cigarettes, and anything else to people on the bus. My favorite dude is the Yogoso guy. Yogosu´s are like freeze pops, but they are filled with a sherbert like ice cream. 10 cents. How can you say no when its 1:30 pm and I left the house at 7:50am?

Buses are a part of my life. And as much as I would like to study Spanish or sleep- they are way too entertaining to do anything but observe this strange world I am begining to fall in love with.