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Lucille's Adventures in Peru Av. Fatima 820, #703, Trujillo, Peru --- www.perumission.org --- "Not all those who wander are lost." J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings

Soo-E, Soo-E, Soo-E

PERU | Friday, 25 September 2009 | Views [403]

La Combi

La Combi

Microbus, la combi, el autobus . . . it takes on many names, but it is just a van or small bus that drives a route around the city.  You get on and off wherever you like.  You pay different amounts depending on the city and routes, but it is never more than 1 sole (equivalent to $0.33).  Here in Arequipa, I take la combi to school and back each day.  I pay 70 centimos (about a quarter $0.25) each way.  Many people do not like these.  A new couple at language school has been having a time trying to get to school because they have to walk to the bus route, then get on a bus that may or may not have a seat, and then it is crowded and sometimes hot.  I cannot empathize with this couple.  Something they find a hassle is pure enjoyment to me, but then again people-watching is one of my favorite hobbies and this is a virtual cornucopia of people!  Further, it is cheap and efficient transportation.  And lately, it has been a lesson in kindness.  Constantly I am inspired as I watch young men and women (really boys and girls) get up to let an elderly woman sit.  Men constantly offering a seat to a woman before taking one himself, or getting up to provide a seat for a lady, or the disable, pregnant, the list goes on.  It also can be interesting as you stand and brace yourself with your feet or hold on to a rail bolted to the ceiling as the van careens around corners and slams to a near halt to go over a speed bump only to take off again once the aforesaid speed bump has been maneuvered.  And then there is the doorman, yes each bus has a doorman to shout the route as he pulls up to the “stops”—do not be fooled, you pretty much get on and off wherever you are just by waiving it down or telling the doorman, “bajo” and then the place you’d like to exit the bus.  The doorman also takes your money and makes change and at the busy stops yells, “Soo-e, soo-e, soo-e!”  (My attempt at phonetic spelling) to encourage those of us boarding to climb aboard quickly.  He is really saying “sube, sube, sube” (climb, climb, climb), but it comes out “soo-e”.  Being from the south, and it is football season, I always chuckle to myself thinking I need to get this man an Arkansas Razorbacks hat! (Though his soo-e is short and crisp, not drawn out like the Razorbacks, but it sounds like the same word.)  Tonight coming home, I was standing in my very Peruvian posture right over someone’s seat holding on the rail bolted to the ceiling wondering if I’d get a seat or stand the entire way home.  And hoping my deodorant worked so the poor soul beneath me was not being tortured with the smell of someone’s armpit since that was about where his head was . . . but yes, I enjoy the bus.  It is a good time.  I am planning a trip home for Thanksgiving.  I will miss traveling by bus and cannot imagine being in a car again and not a combi, collectivo or taxi.  A personal car as transportation is very odd to me right now.  What will that be like?  Can someone please be sure to yell, “Soo-e, soo-e, soo-e” so I’ll know to get in and then take my quarter?


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