I thought I was so clever. After my experience riding TransMilenio to school last Wednesday left me both proud at my success at pushing my way onto the bus and weary at the thought of doing the same thing every day for the next few months, I decided to try the blue buses. These city buses are relatively new here so many Bogotanos don’t know how figure them out. Which means that they are relatively empty.
Another student clued me into the whole blue bus thing and it turns out Google Maps has all the needed info (once I learned how to input Bogotá addresses, that is—a story for another post). Turns out there are three different routes at the bus stop closest to my house, all of which stop two blocks from school. Score.
I successfully took a blue bus to school last Thursday and Friday mornings. I even took one Friday night to meet a friend for dinner. The door-to-door morning commute was about 45-50 minutes, as compared to 30 on TransMilenio. But the improved quality of life made the extra time so worth it.
Each time, I got a seat on the bus right when I boarded. The buses never got very crowded, so there was space around me. Finally, I could read on my phone or listen to my iPod without fear of being robbed. Oh podcasts, how I’ve missed you.
How quickly things can change. Today I got on the blue bus and took a seat. And then we went nowhere. No. Where. For a very, very, very long time.*
Turns out all of those warnings about the traffic were true. I just hadn’t had the pleasure of the experience yet. I have been living a charmed life that I didn’t even appreciate. Now I have lived through real Bogotá morning.
Today was the first day of a new traffic pattern. Even though one of the major north/south routes, Carrera 11, is a divided boulevard, traffic on both sides of the median drove south. Only south. Until today. Now, the road is like any other two-way boulevard. One side goes north and the other south. But this means a lot of Bogotá traffic now has to cram into an even smaller space. Most Bogotanos who needed to know, knew this was happening. I didn’t.
There have been a few other traffic changes like this in the past year so I have to believe it is part of some grand plan. But my Spanish isn’t good enough yet to read up on what this plan is.
My clever solution didn’t last long. When all was said and done, my trip took 1:45 and I missed my first class (and I still don’t know how to say, “I missed class” in Spanish).
So, come tomorrow, I am returning to the TransMilenio madness. I’m going to work on finding my inner Zen to stay calm and balance out my inner Bogotana who pushes her way into the bus.
* But of course we had gone just far enough that I thought it did not make sense to go back to the house, change my shoes, and walk 3.3 miles to school. The fact that there are no bus transfers, I didn’t have any more money on my card, and you can’t load more money onto the card on the bus might have played into my thinking. As did the belief that somehow, just ahead, the traffic would break and we’d start moving at more than a snail’s pace.