PARENTAL DISCLAIMER: For my mom, other people who see themselves as my mom, my mentioned friends’ mothers- I apologize for any fear or worry the following stories bring to your wonderful hearts. Please know that we are all safe and everything is okay… except for the motorcycle guy that our bus hit. But everyone else is safe! Don’t read if it’s going to cause you any health problems.
I haven’t driven a car in over two years. Neither has Osiris. So how do we get around, you ask?
We use our legs.
But aside from that, there are plenty of public transportation methods that take us from Point A to Point B, and, in many cases, all the way to Point Z. That’s right, we have traveled across this entire country (it’s not that big) without having to drive a single vehicle!
It is really quite amazing. And often times uncomfortable. In a country where most people don’t own cars, you’d wonder why everyone wasn’t super skinny from all the walking. Well, the answer to that, my friends, is the rice, the devastating amounts of deep-fried foods, and the inexpensive public transportation system – which can literally take you up to your front door! (And often times, your front door is on the street’s edge.)
Public Cars (25 Pesos or 60 American cents)
The most basic form of transportation (in my eyes) is this. On major streets there is an “organized” Public Car route that spans a (usually) very long distance. They go from one major intersection on one extreme of the city to a central point in the city, or may go even further to the opposite extreme. When I was working, this is what I took to work every morning and back home. In a regular 4-door sedan, 6 passengers squeeze in. 2 in the front passenger seat; 4 in the back. And mark my words, REGARDLESS the size of the person, they WILL fit all 6 unless someone dares to pay double (which I sometimes did to avoid being crushed to death.) There were many times I had to limp to work because I could not feel one of my legs after being in a super tight car. When Osiris and I travel together, we like the front seat cause we get to snuggle and not have to be squeezing with other folks. When Jefte, Ashleigh, and Grace were all here, we’d have to wait until an empty car showed up to squeeze the 5 of us in and torment one innocent dominican with our crazy excitement/fear. And seeing super tall Jefte being squeezed in the back was hilarious! Amy was also lucky enough to ride in a public car with me!
Motorcycles (25 Pesos)
“Motores” are a personal favorite. Since I’ve lived here, I’ve been on more motorcycles than I can count with more strangers than I can count. It is INSANE. These are useful for when you don’t want to walk from the Public Car Stop, or a bus stop, or whatever to your home in the neighborhood. For example, Osiris would walk me every morning to the “Hot Corner” (what the intersection was called) where I would get in a car for work. That walk was almost a kilometer. On my way home, however, he was working and I didn’t like walking by myself. So I’d hop on a Public Motorcycle and some random man would take me to my apartments. Crazy, huh?
You don’t know the craziest.
ONE TIME, I waited outside my work on the street for a car for over 30 minutes. It was really confusing cause it usually didn’t take more than 5 minutes to get a car. While I was on the phone with Osiris telling him I had no idea what was going on, a man on a motorcycle pulled up and was all “Where ya going? I’ll take ya.” I told Osiris. The man then informed me that the public car drivers were on strike. Great. Then he insisted he’d take me to “Hot Corner” for $50 pesos. That wasn’t bad but still, this guy didn’t have a yellow vest on (which usually marks the “Motoristas” as “safe”). I told Osiris and he approved. I hopped on. The man informed me that since he was going that far for $50, he’d pick up anyone else needing a ride. A few blocks down the road, two guys needed a ride. Did they get on? Yes. My stuff and I were squeezed to death and I just prayed that God would keep me and my laptop and my iPhone safe. Looking back, I don’t know what I was thinking. But I made it home safe and they were all very nice to me and helped me off the motorcycle in the end. And they even called me “Doña”- which is the respectful Spanish term used to address elderly women. Weird.
With that said, I’ll leave you curious for more. I’ll continue posting about the many other methods of transportation in the days that follow, along with fun stories of our adventures in those vehicles! I’d love hearing your thoughts on this super fun part of my world the last two years! I can’t wait to share more with you!