Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Buses in San Miguel

The buses in San Miguel are definitely different then the buses we might be used to - these buses seem to run all the time with no real set times for stop arrivals. But, they get you to where you need to be relatively quickly for 4 pesos and it's always amazing to see a bus driver maneuver the things through the tiny streets and up the steep hills.

But, the best thing about the buses here is that they are all personalized. I'm not sure if this is because the driver's lease/buy their own bus or what - but I do know that it's the thing to do. Most of the buses have some variation on a Virgin Mary theme but others are complete with musical preferences and pop culture references.

For example, yesterday we rode out to the hot springs in a bus that had a wall of car speakers at the front blasting pop-punk-esque sounding tunes that were basically a Spanish language Ramones (it's almost like it took 30 years but pop-punk is finally catching on here).

The other neat things about the buses are this:

1. You don't usually pay when you get on the bus. Instead there is a person who sits up front near the driver that is responsible for collecting bus fare later in the trip. Essentially, this guy knows when the bus is likely to be most full. He starts in the back row and works his way collecting pesos.

2. Some buses have salesmen who step on the bus. While many sell pirated CDs/DVDs - my favorite one thus far was the wallet salesman. This guy went through this meticulous presentation on the benefits of a wallet, displaying each slot and fold of the 10 peso, fake leather trifolds he carried in a large stack (while somehow keeping his balance up and down the bumpy hills).

It's kinda difficult to take pictures on the city bus - it's not a tourist vehicle and the personalized displays are all right up by the driver. However, I did manage to get a few inconspicuous shots that are shown below.

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