that's right, this is an entire post devoted to figuring out a form of public transport.
one of my most favorite things to do in this world is to figure out how to get from point a to point b and full-time travel provides that opportunity in a big way.
|a sample of "los colectivos" in buenos aires taken from our bus stop in el barrio de palermo.|
the wife is good at research, very good in fact, and loves to make lists. this is where the team effort comes in and just one of the many reasons why we travel together so well. she makes a list of the places she would like to visit, hands said list to me and says "get me here." i smile, find map, and off we go...
we added it up and figured out we've taken some form of public transportation in 23 countries.
|linea a, buenos aires metro system.|
but what buenos aires also has is buses. LOTS and LOTS of buses of all different colors, with no apparent order and a rich history all their own. "los colectivos" harks back to the early days when they were referred to as "vehicles for collective transport." today, the sheer number of buses, along with all of the different colors representing the companies that own them, is really quite intimidating, not to mention the language barrier! i might also mention the added adrenaline rush when watching one pull up to your stop (la parada) at high speed with its doors already open and people stepping out the rear door, others running and trying to step up into the front door, all before the bus has stopped! but they go places the subway will never reach and this is a huge, and i mean HUGE, city. we needed to figure this out if we were going to survive.
|$2 and SO much info. a great read.|
over the years the bus companies have managed to standardize fares and stuff, but it took another company to step in and print the labyrinth of routes all in one place, resulting in one of the most thrilling public transport guides money can buy, the "guia t." that's right, i said thrilling. pocket-sized, too: "de bolsillo."
it took me days to really understand how to use this thing. it's a book of maps (yay for maps!) and it's a long list of buses with little pictures of them, who owns the bus lines, and a long sequence of roads each route follows.
|the "big map," with the city broken down into quadrants.|
you now hope and you pray that one of them appears in both. the challenge is to read the sequence of streets these buses travel because buenos aires is full of one way streets so the return route will be completely different than the way you got there. remember the brewery idea? this becomes very important to know before you drink that first pint.
|destination page. scary, no?|
here's the best part. michelle and i have been "commuting" from our apartment to our spanish classes in the center of the city. it costs us 30 cents each to get across town, all while watching the city go by and trying to understand the language being spoken around us. good budget travel!
it's a small victory when we step off the bus and find ourselves where we intended, like we're the smartest, most savvy travelers in the world. truth be told, we have a lot of time to fill and some days this may represent our biggest accomplishment.