Thursday, July 29, 2010

Transportation in El Salvador

I don't think I've dedicated the time to really explain one of the craziest things about El Salvador...transportation! This post is designed to tell a couple crazy stories and help you understand how we get around. The transportation goes from the biggest to the littlestThis is the bigger buses. They come from the United States and are basically the buses 15-20 years old that couldn't be fixed enough to pass emissions so they send them here. All over the bus are signs about Jesus and then wierd cartoon characters and American artists.
Every time I sit down I look to see if my name is written in the back of the seat from elementary school. The driver on the buses makes $12 a day and the money collector makes $8. Apparently that is doing good here!

This little beauty is called "el microbus." Because we live up in the mountains they have the smaller buses up here. These are basically a normal van crafted to fit as many people as possible.
Normally this vans with regular seating would fit 8 in El Salvy with seats facing both ways and people standing up they fit 16 people and I don't know how we did it but I counted 21 the other day!!!!! In all the buses there is the driver and the money collector boy. The money collector boy hangs out the door yelling at people as they pass by and telling the driver when they need to stop by either wistleing or by saying visa visa. Then as soon as your first leg is on the bus the driver says "dale" and the bus starts. They do this to save time and to transport as many people as possible in one day. This scared me SO bad the first time because I just about fell. It's crazy to me how these old people and little kids do it without blinking an eye. They're half hanging out the bus and it's shooting down the hill. Typical price is 20-25cents.
A step down from the micro is this truck that's fitted with a tarp and a couple roughly constructed seats. They have these in more remote locations. We took this to get down to Mozote for a tourist site.

Riding on the buses is always a fun event! Here they really do understand the concept of fast food because at every stop a group of sellers starts running for the bus so that they can be the one to sell their goods. The come plowing through the isles even when the bus is packed full selling
PARTY NUTS, cut up mango with chili and salt, PUPUSAS, fried elote, WATER IN BAGS, coke, CANDY, gum, COCONUT WATER, newpapers, TOOTHBRUSHES, key chains, BAGS OF FRUIT, flashlights, RANDOM CREMES. The list goes on and on!
Sometimes they don't get off by the time the bus starts moving and they are either forced to jump off(which is what the little kids do) or they are forced to stay on and ride it out.

This is what happens if you're one of the later stops along the bus route. We had to stay standing up for 45 min! before getting a seat. Imagine the people selling the things pushing in through us with baskets on their heads!

The other weekend we totaled 14 hrs on a bus
These were the people we saw
  • An old man in his 90's got on the bus and with no teeth played the harmonica. I'm not sure the song even really existed I think it was some harmonica he found on the street and thought "Hey I can make money with this!" He then walked around hunched over asking for money.
  • A man got on the bus and stood in front for 10 minutes talking about a creme that he made. He had this little bottle of it and was trying to sell it. Funny thing is Mark almost bought some of it.
  • A man got on the bus and handed each person a sucker that had a whistle at the bottom. Then he stood in front and did a sales pitch for 15 min!!!! I have no idea how he had enough material to talk about a sucker. In the process of it he bartered himself down from 80 cents a sucker to 2x25 cents. He described in a lot of detail every part of the sucker. Then he walked down the isle looking each person in the eye before he took the sucker back
  • A preacher got on the bus and prayed for us and I thought he ended his prayer about 20 times before he actually did it. He was on there walking the isle yelling for 30 minutes. He then told us we needed to pay him tithing or we wouldn't have safe passage and if we did the windows of heaven would be opened.
  • A man came down the isle selling 4 toothbrushes for a dollar. I looked at Mark and his eyes were wide open as he contemplated how much a single toothbrush costs in the states
  • The normal array of food venders got on the bus all throughout the trip
  • A blind man got on the bus and after groping a girl on accident took a little megaphone and yelled at the people saying it's our duty to give him money and prayed for us all
  • A man with a bright orange Boise State shirt got on the bus

I could go on and on about the buses and crazy experiences!


  1. I am in love with Salvadoran buses. It might be my favorite part of living in El Salvador. Honestly, SO much fun. (In a totally crazy way, of course.)

  2. I found this post funny, I'm salvadorean I like this post hahahaha, because is true.

  3. I loved it! You described and identified so much culture that can only be found there in El Salvador.

    -Panamerican Shipping
    El Salvador Shipping