If there are passengers

I have a love hate relationship with Peruvian public transportation. I love it because it's convenient. If you miss a bus, no worries, another one will be there in 30 seconds. It's incredibly convenient, expect when it's not. On those days that for some reason the only bus that goes that way simply isn't running. But then I love it again because the whole system is so ridiculous and I can't help but be fascinated by it. I have surrendered myself to the transportation monster.

When I first moved here, I heard that you can get on or off the bus wherever you want. Just wave your hand if you want to get on and they will come to a screeching halt. If you want to get off yell, "BAJA!!" and they'll throw you off and start going again before your feet hit the ground. Over the last year, however, the city government has started a campaign to create more "official" bus stops, therefore eliminating some of the chaos. Sometimes the buses follow this and sometimes they don't, it generally depends on how strictly it is enforced on that route. 

I have started taking a new bus route to one of my classes and immediately noticed something interesting. The stop where I get on, is at a major intersection and makes logical sense because it is at the stop light of that intersection. The next "stop" is simply on the other side of the intersection. At first I assumed it was an anomaly, but it happens almost every day. They pick me up on one side at the "official" stop, cross the intersection (roughly six lanes of traffic) and stop again. But this time it's not at the stop light and when the bus stops the cars get backed up. Then the light changes and cars are stuck in the intersection. Then the cross section cars can't move. Then every car starts honking their horns as if all the noise can solve the problem. And people wonder why traffic is so bad here. 

Today as we were approaching this second "stop" a woman screamed, "Baja!" and asked to be let off. The driver didn't slow down. "Baja!" she continued and then a chorus of other lazy pedestrians began yelling "Baja! Baja! Baja!

Finally the coin collector fought back, "But there isn't a stop here."

To which the first woman replied, "There is if there are passengers getting off."

I was utterly intrigued by her logic. Lima public transportation isn't viewed as "public". There is a viewpoint held by some commuters that they have the right to ride the bus their way. Sit where they would like. Listen to certain music. Get on or off at a particular point. And even pay a certain rate. 

That is exactly what I find fascinating about the bus system here. Every bus is like it's own little community whether with peaceful harmony or rebellions. Yes, I have an hour long commute but it's certainly never boring.