taking a combi in arequipa

I took a combi in Arequipa today! [YQrtw Day 93 Jul 11]

Location: Arequipa, Peru

Taking a combi in Arequipa
Taking a combi in Arequipa

Today’s highlight was my 5 minute bus ride in a combi (mini bus). I wanted to take the bus yesterday but I was daunted by the crowd so I ended up walking to the cinema and missing the Superman movie.

I love taking public transport to save money since taxis are multiple times more expensive than the bus. Plus, I’m very allergic to dishonest taxi drivers.

The combi system reminds me more of buses back home in Kota Kinabalu because it seems to be an unruly system.

The buses have signs of destination in large signs on their windshields. The bus conductor hangs out of the door, yelling different destinations. (Back home, the conductors yell, “Keh keh. Keh keh.“)

One of the reason I finally dared to take the bus was because I realized that “SAGA” was the name of the department store near where I am staying. I won’t get lost if I hop on buses with that destination.

So I walked to the corner of San Francisco street and waited by the wall while other locals eye me curiously.

Many buses with “SAGA” on their windshields stopped in front of me. However, I didn’t want to go on them because the buses were packed almost to the brim with people.

The size of the bus I took was similar to this, but with less people.
The size of the bus I took was similar to this, but with less people.

Finally, a slightly larger bus came and it looked like not much people were inside. I walked to the bus conductor hanging out of the door and said, “Saga?”

She ushered me into the bus. Even though it was a larger bus, there weren’t a lot of seats. Almost all of the seats were taken. I stood awkwardly at the empty space in front of the seats.

I didn’t take my camera out and take photos of people in there. I didn’t want to be the traveller who treats other people as photo opportunities.

I then saw a seat between the driver and a school kid. I went to the front and plonked myself in the tiny seat. The street that I normally walk past didn’t look much different from higher up in the seat.

Then the boy had to get off the bus so I went back to the empty space and stared either out of the window or at my feet. It would be awkward looking at the passengers, some of whom were gawking at me.

When we were nearing my stop, the bus conductor repeated, “Saga. Saga.” I think it was to notify me that my stop was near.

As I got off, I passed 1 sole (S$0.50) and the lady gave me back 20 cents (10 Singapore cents) in change.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, was my first–and unlikely last–combi ride.

Totally unrelated photo of an alpaca resting:

Alpaca in Arequipa, pretending to be caterpillar
Alpaca in Arequipa, pretending to be caterpillar

PS Mom convinced me to stay in Arequipa for another week for Spanish class. I’ll be heading to Machu Picchu later in the month. However I won’t be continuing my homestay because the walk to school is really time consuming. And I don’t feel like talk to people in the later part of the evening.

More about Liau Yun Qing

Yun Qing is a writer, improviser and curious person. She loves finding little adventures in life. In 2013, she went on a 130-day round-the-world trip. She wrote a book to help those who also want to go on a career break.

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