Combis and Other Obstacles

Happy March! While many of you have been battling blizzards in New York, this is how my roommates and I spend our mornings here:

It’s hard to believe that I’ve only been here a week. It’s been something of a roller coaster. I spent a few days feeling like a child every time I tried to speak Spanish, which was pretty hard. It didn’t help that this city is intimidating when it comes to public transportation (more on that momentarily), especially when one is only semi-lingual. Back in New York, my friend Karina warned me to brace myself for some culture shock, but I was still caught off guard by it. Perhaps that was arrogant of me; oops.

BUT. During my course with SITI Company last month, Stephen reminded us again and again to throw ourselves directly at the obstacle rather than try to go around it. So, that’s what I’m trying to make myself do with this particular obstacle: I’m starting Spanish classes tomorrow, I’m trying to talk as much as possible, and I’m becoming a master at using the Combis to get around this huge city.

Combis! They are an anarchist’s ideal form of public transportation, and I love them. Combis are little busses or sometimes vans that speed up and down most of the major roads in Lima. One person drives, while another stands at the bus door and yells out the name of the street where they’re going: “JAVIER PRADO JAVIPRADO JAVIPRADO!”. (The combis also have street names painted on them, but sometimes those are inaccurate.) You wait until someone drives by yelling the name of the street you want, and then you ask them if they’re going to pass your cross street, and then you hop on. Sometime during the ride, the Yeller comes around and collects your fare (usually about 30 cents in US money), and then, when the bus is approaching your street, you yell out “Baja baja baja!” (“Getting off getting off getting off!”), and there you are. It’s brilliant and way more fun than the MTA. The only problem is that I’m usually too tall to stand up straight, and I’ve bumped my head and stepped on people and generally made a stupid turista of myself several times. Ah well. I’ve only had one week of practice.

To conclude: First week in a new country = (unsurprisingly) hard. Combis = fantastic. Maletó, the Peruvian Perro = still wonderful. Here are some pictures! You can click on them to see the full-sized image.

Maletó. I mean, really. How can you not love this creature?

A blurry picture of the casita (little house) on the roof where I've been sleeping. It's really pretty nice, except for that green light bulb. But Rachel and I move into a new room this week, and I'm ready to unpack.

The view from the roof at sunset. Not bad, eh?

More to come soon...

1 comment:

  1. Hi Megan, Glad you are doing well! Those Combis sound like lots of fun - and your description is great. And I love your banner picture too. Hope you are enjoying every second! Amanda