Sunday, June 19, 2011

Adventures On The Combi

I live about 35 minutes from our training center by combi. What is a combi? See photo above. A combi is like a cross between a short bus and a large van. Here they are perhaps the most common form of transportation and the only way I travel, other than on foot. As I am not used to public transportation and haven't ridden many busses since childhood, you can imagine I may have many adventures on my new daily commute. To fully appreciate my awkwardness here, there are some things you should know about the combis. 

First of all, they are usually very full and seats are tough to come by. This means that I must quickly find something to hold on to, or I will not remain standing. Next, you must keep in mind that driving here is not like it is in the States, so remaining standing on a combi is not an easy feat. Most days I feel like my commute is an upper body workout. Finally, I would like to remind you that I am a white girl. A very obvious white girl who stands out in a crowded little bus in Peru. So here you have them, my adventures on the combi, week one. 

The Day I Lost My Sol- Soles in denominations less than 10 are in coins here, which means I often spend my coins on candy, because it feels like I'm only spending quarters. This behavior will need to be adjusted soon... Anyway, I lost a sol on the combi last week and spent easily 5 minutes squatting, bending, and scraping for it. A nice Peruvian man even helped me in my thinly-veiled frantic search. It was under my foot the whole time. Awesome. 

Paparazzi- While riding home from training the other night, 2 amigas and I were chatting when we realized that the young man next to us was trying to take our picture. Trying to employ some of the skills we are learning, one of my new friends advised him he could take a picture of us if he got up and did a dance for the whole combi crowd to watch. He declined. We let him take our picture anyway. 

The Fall- I knew it would happen sooner or later. I fell over on the combi. And it wasn't a little trip either. What happened is that I inadvertently sat on two men's laps/ totally crash landed on two unsuspecting men/ lost all balance and flailed like a starfish with my arms and feet in the air while making noises like a cow in heat. I apologized profusely while the witnesses laughed and tried not to watch. The men I sat on were as cool about it as they could be. If some random person with a ghetto booty like mine landed in my lap, I don't think I would have been as composed as they were. One example of why I am a fan of the people of Peru.  

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