Friday, July 13, 2012

Just Get on the Bus, Gus

Grab this related post Widget!
I like riding the local buses. Many Cuencanos tell me that this is dangerous, although a little questioning reveals they’ve actually never ridden a bus. “But I saw on the news--------.”

It’s not about saving money. Sure, bus fare is 25 cents (half that if you’re 65 or older) and a cab costs $1.50-2.00. Times are not so hard that I don’t have an extra $1.75.

Riding buses helps keep me grounded. I see the “real” Cuenca here—students, indigenous women with kids strapped on their back, professionals sitting and standing side by side.

There’s an interesting ritual in which I sometimes participate just like a local. Bus drivers are loath to give you change. All you’ve got is a 50 cent piece. You tap the shoulder of the person in front of you, show him your coin, and if he has a quarter he gives it to you, takes yours and pays for both of you. No Spanish required. How cool!

Then you’ve got the traveling salesmen who hop aboard for a couple of stops shouting out their sad story and hawking anything from pencils (pencils??) to candy bars. Or musicians who entertain you for spare change.

It’s all great fun, and I’m sorry I see so few expat passengers. Many only seem to hang out with each other, eat/drink at “gringo” restaurants and bars, and own cars so neither buses or taxis are ridden. We don’t have gated communities here, but it appears some of my compatriots are creating “gated existences” for themselves, associating with the local people and culture only when absolutely required.

I find it puzzling to travel so far away to a foreign country, then do everything you can to pretend you don’t really live there.

I’ll just keep riding the bus, thank you. Hey, do you have a quarter? All I’ve got is this 50 cent piece.


Roger Hicks, Appalachian said...

I don't live in EC yet and won't, most likely, for several more years. But if live in a country and refuse to participate in its normal culture and lifestyle, you really don't live there. I agree with you completely.

Frank said...

Nice post, Edd. When I get to Cuenca in Sept., I suspect I'll be one of those expats who tends to avoid gringos. In my experience, you learn a whole lot more that way. I'd be most interested to hear more about the local culture, people, critters, flowers and things distinctly Ecuadorean.

Thanks again,
Frank (yet another Appalachian)

Edd Staton said...

Gracias, amigos.

Anonymous said...

Hi Edd,

I have a relatively new blog about extricating myself from the “First World” and hopefully landing in Ecuador by October. My readers are mostly people who have the same goal as me, which is to become YOU someday! Would you mind taking a moment to answer this simple question for me, so that I can share it in a new post I have in mind? I will, of course, credit the answer (as well as those of a few other bloggers I admire) to you, as well as provide a link to your blog.

Here is the “simple” question: “What is the one thing you’d miss most about Ecuador if you were forced to move back to the First World?”

Thanks in advance for your thoughts on this!

John Brighton

Edd Staton said...

That's a good question, John. I would miss the lifestyle that we have created here. We enjoy a sense of freedom that goes beyond "what money can buy" and really must be experienced to understand. You've got three big months ahead. I wish you all the best in making your dreams come true.

Camara Asiatica-Latina de eCommerce said...

Hi Edd, I agree that most locals will fill you with a false sense of fear before doing a lot of things, like riding local buses.

Really, its nothing to worry about, just dont make yourself a target and you shouldnt have a problem.

Im an American living in Guayaquil, also a nice place that has a bad local rap.


Edd Staton said...

You live in that terrible, scary place. Yikes!! Just kidding-----