Having made it in one piece travelling on Africa buses, Indian train chaos, Chinese taxi drivers and the crazy tuk-tuks of SE Asia we were not going to be undone by a few crazies, driving buses and trains at warp speed through the tiny villages of Chile. Make your way to your seat as quickly as possible and God help you if you cannot find a seat and have to stand and added to that if you have luggage with you aswell!
Catching the bus in Santiago or Valparaiso is pretty straight forward with no real complexities, it’s all about speed, and by that I mean, it is your speed boarding and disembarking, I talk about not just the speed of the vehicle.
The metro through Santiago is a linear system, very reliable and easy to navigate, not too many stations to get confused about, the biggest challenge is getting tickets when you don’t speak Spanish, alas our reading is basic and it gets us away with our poor pronunciation and grammar, ‘dos billeto en santa lucia, per fevor’ a smile a couple of tickets at the standard rate and off we head, scratching our heads about our pathetic Spanish that others seem to make some sense of.
The buses in Valparaiso are a different story, with no bell to signal you want off this hell ride, just a cord that you ask someone who can reach it, to pull and hopefully you made your stop, or a few hundred metres further if you are too slow and the driver got his speed up.
It always feels vastly different with and without being loaded with our backpacks on a bus or train when we arrive in a new city or town, compared to when we are just travelling around the city with no luggage. You have to be on your guard for pickpockets or for other people’s safety or your own in fact, as falling forward or backward it’s pretty easy to take out a few innocent bystanders, if you are not careful. When you don’t have luggage you can just be careful of the pickpockets and actually enjoy the ride and try and figure out how this latest system differs from others. Come to think of it, we have not been on any two bus or metro or subway or train systems that are identical in any country from city to city, always a new challenge!