THE PURPLE BUS
In Lima, the buses have different colors. I often ride the purple buses. They take me to and from the part of Lima where I work.
I’m unusual. Many people I know never ride the bus. It is just for poor people they say. I guess they feel uncomfortable with poor people. Or they don’t want to be identified as poor. I don’t care about any of that. Those who feel that way will take a taxi or drive their own car.
I gave up driving long ago as too stressful and too expensive. Most of the time, I also ride in a taxi. But, reflecting that the cost can be 15 soles, or more than 15 times that of the bus, in a fit of economy, I will take the bus. Also, I have found that I don’t save any time taking a taxi. Riding on a bus is just as fast. So the time factor doesn’t count.
The bus is cheap, costing about one Sol, or thirty-three cents U.S. For that price, you do not get a luxury ride. Many of the buses are old and crowded.
However, one benefit of being a senior citizen is that, usually, someone will offer me their seat. This is good because the jerky style of the driver can make it a challenge standing and I have to hang on for dear life. Even with a seat, comfort is not always possible. While I am not tall, the space between the seats is so narrow I have to scrunch up and, even then, I don’t fit.
People on the bus are usually quiet. But on the purple buses, there is one source of diversion or annoyance, depending on the situation. The drivers of the purple buses allow various vendors or supplicants on the bus to promote their cause or their business. During my ride, I may be subjected to three or four different performances.
Just as an example, yesterday a man pleaded for money because his daughter is in the hospital and needs an operation, a musical group with recorded music had a kid singing (screeching) in my ear and finally, a young Venezuelan lengthily apologized for disturbing us while he sold us candy.
Pleas for money leave me skeptical. On the bus, it is rare to hear a really good pitch or a musical group worthy of support. Once in a while, though, when I hear a convincing performance, I dip in my pocket for a coin.