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Aangezien ik al bijna vier weken elke dag met de bus naar mijn werk op en neer rijdt en af en toe ook nog naar het kantoor van Projects Abroad of het centrum, zijn me ondertussen een paar dingen die me opvallen. Ik neem eigenlijk altijd de "Batman", maar allecbussen hier hebben zulke spannende namen, zo ook "Zorro" of "El Dorado". Ten eerste een beschrijving van de bussen. Het zijn geen buurtbussen en ook geen stadsbussen, maar iets ertussenin. Qua grootte dan. Qua luxe valt het onder alle gemiddelden van Nederland. Ze hebben ongeveer 20 zitplaatsen en dan naar eigen zeggen nog 18 staanplaatsen (dat ligt eraan hoe dicht je op de ander moet en wil staan). Ook zijn er meestal twee of drie zitplaatsen die rood gemarkeerd zijn, die zijn gereserveerd voor invaliden, zwangere vrouwen en mensen met kleine kinderen. Ik ga hier expres maar nooit zitten, want waarschijnlijk denken ze dan dat ik het niet begrijp, of zo arrogant ben dat ik er toch gewoon ga zitten. Toch zit er ook in de luxe van de bussen wel wat verschil, zo heb je bussen met harde plastic stoelen, maar ook stoelen die gestoffeerd zijn. Bij de ene lijk je ook meer beenruimte te hebben dan bij de andere. Sowieso verschillen ze allemaal een beetje van indeling, zo hebben sommige voor nog vier schuine zitjes. Allemaal hebben ze aan de ene kant twee stoelen naast elkaar en aan de kant van de weg een stoel. Je hebt twee mensen die de bus "besturen", een buschauffeur, die zijn handen vol heeft aan het verkeer, want er zijn geen rijstroken en soms lijken er ook helemaal geen verkeersregels te zijn. Dan heb je nog een persoon die bij de deur staat en roept welke halte de volgende is. Nu weet ik wel wat er komt en welke halte ik moet hebben, maar je kan je wel voorstellen dat dat de eerste week alleen maar geschreeuw voor mij was. Als het jouw halte is, moet je proberen boven alles uit "vaja" en dan de halte te noemen en daarop geef je het geld. Ook daarvan kun je je voorstellen, dat ik me daarbij de eerste week nogal ongemakkelijk voelde. Echter kun je, als je dit echt niet wilt, ook al eerder je halte noemen en het geld geven. Maar natuurlijk is het dan altijd maar afwachten of ze uiteindelijk dan ook echt bij jouw halte stoppen... En als we dan bij een halte zijn roept hij/zij heel hard naar buiten welke haltes ze allemaal aandoen. En natuurlijk ook daar dat mensen weer snel moeten uitstappen (en weer instappen): "suba suba! Rapida!". Ze houden tijdens dit alles geen rekening met reizigers. Oud, jong, met kindjes, een wandelstok of veel tassen, allemaal moeten ze opschieten en worden ze half de bus ingeduwd en geroepen. De bus rijdt al als de laatste persoon bij wijze van spreke nog met een been buiten staat. Vamos! Ook al zit de oma die net is ingestapt nog niet, we sjeezen er alweer vandoor. Tijdsefficient, maar niet erg klantvriendelijk. Maar zoals ik er nu al wat aan gewend ben, zijn de Peruanen hier dat dus ook. En ach daar betaal je dan ook maar 70 cents (17,5 eurocent) voor ;). Wat zal ik straks moeten wennen om weer met de NS, Arriva en Breng te reizen... Zowel qua manieren, maar ook qua geld haha.
Vaja vaja! Suba suba! Rapida! Vamos!
A visit to Jamaica can be one of the most epic experiences you’ll ever have…only if you do it right. What do we mean by doing right? Well there are certain ways to enhance your experience through proper preparation, observation and participation. We are here to help you get it as close to ‘right’ as possible with some simple yet necessary tips. Here we go.
Watch out fi di mosquitoes.
It doesn’t really matter what time of year you decide to take a trip to the island you are sure to encounter some mosquitoes. Take with you some mosquito repellants, long sleeve shirts and pants along with the tank tops and swimsuits you were planning on wearing and you should be fine
Watch out fi di pot holes
Yes yes we are a developing country and some of the natural resources and facilities will reflect that. If you plan on renting a vehicle we recommend a SUV or definite 4x4 if you can afford it. If not, just remember to get one that is fit and ready to take on the road. You might have to deal with a couple pot holes on your journey.
Watch out fi di Jamaican Timing
Time as we know it doesn’t really exist in Jamaica, well not like what foreigners may be used to. Our timing can be a little off. So do not get upset when an event starts a little later than the time advertised or your meeting commences thirty minutes after scheduled. Just sit back relax and enjoy everything else that we have to offer.
Watch out fi di load!
When travelling of course and we don’t mean things…but people rather, whether in a taxi or a bus. We leave no one behind, this you will find out once taking public transportation in Jamaica. The taxis will have a little more that expected number of passengers and so too most buses. The loading process can also pick on your patience but there is something about public travel that is indeed worth experiencing regardless of it's turn offs.
Now once you've had these and a couple other things covered you should be able to have the time of your life; explore, discover and create.
All our volunteers arriving here in Mexico always face a new challenge or adventure, from diving into a totally different new culture, the language, food, etc but one thing that always seems to confuse them a bit (at least at the beginning of their trip) is riding a mexican bus; and I have got to say here that I totally understand it, cause it can be a bit tricky.
It all starts with identifying a proper bus stop; an official bus stop would be on a corner, a sign and a metal bench that indicates: this is an official bus stop therefore buses should stop here. But unofficial bus stops also exist, and that would be any regular corner, but it's not just any regular corner, cause here you have to use your sixth sense and guess which regular corners become official bus stops, tricky right?
And then comes another questions: where do buses stop when i want to get off? well now we go back to the normal rules: official corners, they stop here. But they also stop at regular corners and sometimes even in middle of the block! getting trickier right!?
And apart from that, just riding the bus is like riding a rollercoaster sometimes: bumpy streets, loud and fast traffic and a totally packed bus where you have to find a way to find equilibrium so you dont fall! (that if you were not lucky enough to get a seat) or dealing with the ladies with the big old grocery bags or the kids coming back from school with their giant backpacks.
It is quite an adventure I've got to say, not a dangerous one, but a funny one that most volunteers, if not all of them.
Please note on the picture below that this is a totally civilized bus ride, it wasn't rush hour so things were totally calmed and quiet and I managed to get a seat!
p.s. get an mp3 player, it will make your ride easier :)
After leaving you guys on that cliffhanger, its time to finally talk about Sucre. Boy is there a lot to talk about, and I'll try to say as much as possible.
Packing my stuff was kind of weird, as I had no idea what to bring besides clothes. I knew I had to be careful with my stuff. Despite that, I took my camara, 3DS, and IPhone with me on the trip. At 19:00, I arrived at the bus station, we went to the bus, and were on our way to Potosi.
Did I just say Potosi instead of Sucre? This confused me as well at first, but other volunteers told me that we were taking the bus to Potosi because the bus to Sucre is supposedly terrible. The bus ride was ok, I guess. The bus drivers had a movie planned, but we didn't get farther than the DVD screen. After a while, I just got tired of it and turned the TV off. I'd like to imagine this was greeted with cheer, but no one said anything, so I guess they were ok with it. I just played some Where's my Water on my IPhone and after that, called it quits and went to sleep.
It was about 5 in the morning when we arrived in Potosi, and next up was taking a taxi to Sucre. Originally taking 2 hours, it ended up taking about 4. There was some beautiful landscapes to keep us pre-occupied, but I just decided to sleep through it all because I was incredibly tired
After that trip, we finally arrived in the hostel, but there was a problem. We wer supposed to be there at 7. It was 10 when we got there, and some of the rooms we booked had been taken. Some volunteers decided to take the more expensive rooms which had a kitchen and a living room. I, along with Melle, went with the cheap option. After getting everything ready, it was time to explore Sucre and see what it had in store for us.
It essentially boiled down to a lot of walking and lots of sightseeing. We didn't take any tour (no dinosaur prints for us), and our guide was essentially everybody's Lonely Planet guide. We just walked around, looked at the churches, and just simply had a good time.
We hung out a bit at the top of this hill (which had a absolutely gorgeous view), to have some refreshments. Some people wanted to go see the market, others wanted to stay there and go to a museum afterwards. I decided to go to the market, but some of them wanted to go get some money and use an internet café for a bit. I decided to do the same, so that I could check my mail, check the news, and other things.
When I was done however, I couldn’t find anyone. I was in a city which I barely knew with no one around to guide me. It didn’t help that my phone didn’t have any connection whatsoever. Luckily, I found the people of the museum who were on their way back and tagged along with them. The rest, as it turns out, were just sitting on a balcony enjoying drinks and food, not too far away from where I was. I drank a beer and most of us went back to the hostel.
Then, few volunteers had the amazing idea to make our own dinner instead of going out. We decided to go and make spaghetti with tomato sauce, and then make a fruit salad. I was assigned the most glourious task as packing mule, so I carries most of the veggies, cheese, tomato sauce, and other things.
When we got home, it was time to prepare the spaghetti. I grated the cheese, and gave some much needed moral support. When it was 8, the spaghetti was finally done. The sauce, which could’ve had some meat in it, but that’s just me, was very well received, and we felt like we had accomplished by creating a dinner for all of us. The fact that none of us suffered from food poisoning in the morning meant that we had done a great job.
But the night was still young, and there was stuff. So we did what every teenager does, drink their ass off. We had some wine and some vodka (mixed with juice), and played a bunch of drinking games. Not the guy who enjoys being drunk (nor ever have been), I did drink but not in huge quantities. It was fun, but at around 12, I called it quits and went to bed. Other volunteers apparently went to a bar and club, and I hope they had a good time.
The following morning was the last day in Sucre. We found out that the earliest bus to Cochabamba would go at about 6:30, so we were stuck for a while with not much to do. We did what we did the last day: walk. But this walk would prove to be a lot more tense than your average walk.
February is a big deal in Bolivia. Not because of that Valentine’s Day crap. No, because of Frickin’ Carnaval, baby!! While Carnival isn’t officially celebrated until the 20th and 21st, people are already very excited about it. And while they can’t show it in Cochabamba because of some law, they certainly do in Sucre. How do they do it? Simple, water balloons.
We already had some experienced some of it. We saw people throwing their balloons out of their cars and just randomly across the street. We’ve also been targets, but never was it as bad as during the walk through the park. Kids. Teenagers, and adults all carried a watery grave, and just because we were a bunch of gringo’s, they weren’t going to be kind to us. Never had I experienced such a tense walk in the park, and in the end, we got sick of it. We bought a bag of water balloons (1 bag only costs 1 boliviano), and were ready to strike. Unfortunately, we started to get outmatched, because a bunch of 9 year olds were carrying a bunch of GODDAMN SUPER SOAKERS!!!! We ran, we ran a lot from these little demons, but we did one last action for revenge. We all threw water balloons at them and then ran away like a bunch of cowards. Still, it was good to have some revenge.
Because we were all soaking wet (surprisingly, none of our expensive electronics got destroyed or short circuited), but our cathedral plans were out of the window, and instead we relaxed at some nice little place full of nice grass and palm trees, and waited for other volunteers who had fleed long before us. Aside from a really sad sounding hobo and some douchbag throwing yet another water balloon at us, it was very relaxing, and we must’ve stayed there for about a hour.
After that, some decided to eat at the balcony, while others went to a café right next to it. I ate a very classy looking burger along with some Sprite, and then we all went back to the hostel. However, some wanted to get some snacks for the long bus ride, and we all went to a grocery store.
It started out disasterously enough, as a bunch of teenagers on a semi-truck were ready to attack us with a bunch of water balloons as soon as the light turns red. We screamed run, and ran as if our life depended on it (I think I’ve developed Post Traumetic Water Balloon Disorder). In the end, it was kind of stupid, considering they could follow us in a much faster vehicle. Still, none of us got a water balloon making my shirt all wet again (ugh)
I got some water, Oreo’s, and chips that had Snoopy on it (probably not legally, Bolivia doesn’t particularly care about copyright). And when it was 6, it was time to start the journey back to Cochabamba. We heard the trip would be bumpy and bad, but how bad could it possibly be, right?
Well, we got our answer quite quickly. The road was absolutely horrid, bumping us all over the place. We knew that this would happen, but so bad was something we didn’t expect. Then after about half a hour, we stopped for some new passengers. They were some Bolivian hillbillies (at least, that’s what I called them), carrying some shit I don’t care about. 2 of them sat in the hallway of the bus, the other one sat in the back, righr between 4 of the other volunteers. As expected, they either ignored him, or were annoyed by him. Especially annoying was that they had to pay 30 Bolivianos, while we had to pay 60. We had just found out we were ripped off.
But that was the least of our problems, because like the previous bus, they decided it was time for a movie, but unlike the last bus, it got further than the DVD screen and actually played. It was a Spanish dubbed version of Full Metal Jacket. I’’m fine with watching a classic, but it was so incredibly loud, and we could barely understand any of it (at least, most of us). The fact that we were so close to the stereo made it all the more annoying. We didn’t finish the movie, which made us relieved, but we got something far worse in return.
We had to hear some horrible Spanish scream against our ears, and it went FOREVER!!! By then, I was convinced this bus wasn’t a trip to Cochabamba, but a endurance test to see how much the human mind could take before it eventually cracks and goes on a killing spree. I wanted to rip that stereo apart and throw it out the window, and probably would’ve done that if I were actually able to find the damn thing, which I couldn’t. I wanted to cry myself to sleep, but eventually, the nightmare was over, at 1 AM, the music finally stopped, and I was ready to sleep.
That same horrible music acted as a annoying alarm clock when we got close to Cochabamba, at around 4:30 in the morning. We later arrived in Cochabamba, all of course really tired and wanting to go home. I, along with Oscar, Caitlin, and Nadja, took a taxi to our place home. I ended up paying for all of us (by the way, I want my 22.5 Boliviano’s back, FROM ALL OF YOU!!!), and in the end, I got back home. It was quite a relief being back, even if I had work in about 4 hours. I put on my pyjama’s went to bed, and dozed off at about 6, leaving me with only 2 hours of sleep.
And that was my trip to Sucre, I hope you enjoyed reading it, I’m sorry about all of the delays, and I’ll promise to write as fast as possible about my following adventures. Tom out.
P.S. Photos will appear on a seperate blog. Up very soon