never did i think that i'd miss the SEPTA buses or CTA el-trains of my 'past life.' and really, i've dealt well with the public transit here in santiago until very recently.
latin american transportation leaves a lot to be desired. in mexico, old converted VW vans with the seats taken out serve as COMBIS, following planned out routes and charging very little. uncomfortable, but usually the ride is short and mexican people are small. in guatemala i took a "taxi" from one mountain town to the next. taxis aren't private... nor are they safe. this particular model was a mini-pickup with a metal beam in the middle of the truckbed about shoulder high. about 25 people piled in, grabbed onto the pole and we headed off. the front seat is reserved for pregnant or super elderly woman. it's a great way to see the country and even to meet people.
here in the DR, the preferred form of getting around are "public cars" referred to as conchos. think of the most delapidated car you've ever seen. take away any remnant of shock absorbers, springs in the seats and even the inside panel of the back doors. slap a "liscence" on the side and you've got a concho. in santiago the system is simple - each route has a letter and a basic looped route. depending on the neighborhood the cars enter the worse the actual car looks. it costs $12 pesos (about 0.30 cents), unless you're going to or coming from the airport then it costs more.
the backseat holds four and the front seat three. lap-sitters don't count. i've seen up to 6 "people" in the backseat of the busier routes.
i never really minded the conchos until samil was born. if i want to go anywhere, i have to pay two seats so that he doesn't get smooshed and i can never take a stroller anywhere. there's just not enough room. so we've started walking.
only a serious problem when it starts to rain.
like it did today. but with a stroller, a baby and some groceries, there was no way i could get my act together to get into the concho without dropping something (or someone).
it was the first, but probably not the last time i've blessed the subway designers in the states...