Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Hitchin' a Ride...Bolivian Style

I find the modes of transportation and road communication here absolutely fascinating…so now you all get to learn about it!

In terms of transport, you typically have three options:
1. Taxi – Anyone can be a taxi driver. All they have to do is put a sticker on their window that says “Taxi.” It’s typically not a good idea to pick one up off the street, especially at night. They cost around 10 bolivianos – a little over a dollar.

A micro on the street
2. Micro – also known as a bus. These are just like buses in the U.S., except that they are painted very brightly, and the seats go any which direction to fit as many people as possible inside. They cost 1.50 bolivianos.

¡Qué colores!
Taxi Trufis
3. Taxi Trufi – Costs the same as a micro. I take one of these four times a day to travel from my office to home or vice versa. It costs me 6 bolivianos a day…about $0.85. Trufi’s have specified routes, and on top of the vehicle will be a sign that says “Trufi” and the route number. These are typically tricked out station wagons…the trunks have been ripped out and there are three rows of bench seats. They can hold up to 9 people…three in each row, plus throw in some kids for good measure and you’ve got a packed car! You hail a trufi just as you would a taxi in the U.S., and the direct the driver to drop you off “en la esquina, por favor.” My favorite Trufi experience thus far involved climbing in to discover that the car was built for the UK, and the steering wheel had simply been ripped out of the right side of the vehicle and affixed to the left…leaving a big whole and all of the dials on the side opposite the driver!
A different kind of micro, next to a taxi trufi

Other quick notes:

Traffic signals seem to just be suggestions. If you’re sitting at a red light and there’s no one there, the cars just run the red lights!

Horns. Car horns are used all the time for communication. From what I can discern, the horn honk can mean any of the following:
- Get out of my way!
- Please cut in.
- I need to get over.
- Look at me, my taxi is empty and I can give you a ride!
- My taxi is already full.
- I’m going to drive through this intersection now.
- Your car is too close to mine (important, as there aren’t really any lanes to discern spacing)
- I’m so happy to be driving!!

I find this all particularly funny as the city has a publicity campaign out advertising that people should not honk their horns as it creates noise pollution.

The other interesting point is that pedestrians have absolutely no right of way here at all. Thus, I can often be seen sprinting across the street, trying to avoid cars that are running red lights and animatedly honking at me. Good times had by all!

1 comment:

  1. I love you :) haha you're too funny. That's craziness! I hope you are well. Perhaps we can skype sometime? :)