I have been meaning to tell y’all about the minibus system here for a while and just haven’t, so today is the day. I was inspired to tell you because of the 10 year old boy who was working as the caller on the bus today. He was so cute and he was really good at his job, but I kept thinking, “Son, why aren’t you in school right now?” which made me realize yet again how different things are here from America.
Ok, so the minibus system here is similar to the bus system at UGA (or any other college campus I guess) in that it goes all over the city with different destinations for different buses and you get on the minibus that is going to the part of the city that you want to go to. The difference is that it covers a city of 4 million people and the bus (vans) are not nice at all and I would give anything to ride a bus at UGA again in place of riding a minibus here! They are supposed to seat 12 people, but if you happen to get on a bus with 12 or less people, it is a rare day! To have 20 on a minibus is not unusual and I would say we average about 16.
Each bus has a driver and a caller. The caller leans out the side window from the waist up and yells out the destination of the taxi as it flies past you. They talk about as fast as an auctioneer and you better be listening closely. How they aren’t all dead from leaning out the window in moving traffic is a mystery to me!
There are 3 rows of two seats and then a back row that seats 3, as well as the front seat that seats 3. The normal seating arrangement is three people in the front seat (including the driver) and then in the back three people for every two seat row and four people in the back seat, which is supposed to seat three. Then, they often put two people on the wheel well and one person sitting on the front step facing the rest of the bus. That, plus the caller, equals 20. I wish I could take a picture for you so that you could get a true visual, but unfortunately I am usually doing good to maintain a normal breathing pattern, not to mention try to reach in my bag for a camera! Luckily, the people here are a little smaller than in America, so while it is tight, it is still semi-doable.
In spite of the tight squeeze, the minibuses get me where I need to go and are ridiculously cheap and since I have no other mode of transportation they are working pretty well for me right now!