Books Worth a Look

  • Little Bee by Chris Cleave - This book is a must read. Better than anything else I've read, it takes you vividly into the life of a person in the 3rd world who has no choice but to escape. It is brilliantly written & works well as an audio book. Often I've sent info about the wonderful refugees I've met in Europe. We know only so much of their plight as it is painful for them to recall much less live through again by recounting it. But over time it is clear what they've lived through. This book is excellent as you discover the horrors of their world. Somewhat how to me, it is like being in Europe near a Concentration Camp. One has an obligation to visit it. 'Never to Forget.' In this case, to have our eyes opened.
  • Garbage King by Eliz Laird - The book is set on the streets on Addis Ababa, in Ethiopia and here lives Mamo and his sister Tiggist. When Mamo's "uncle" offers a job, he soon sets out on a bus to work. Little does he know that he is actually being sold into slavery...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Local Buses - reality & corruption

Today conversing totally in Spanish as always (total immersion) my teacher explained how the camionetas (buses) work.

All buses are privately owned. So I could purchase say 3 buses & obtain permission to run them on a specific route.
  • The fare is 3Q or 38 cents.
  • Buses legally have a capacity of 40 people.
  • For one day the driver is expected to return 300Q = $37.50 to the owner at night. Hopefully the driver will make about 50Q = $6.25.

That is the arrangement. The 300Q is not negotiable. So how then does a driver earn more money? ¡Mirele!

  • Drivers pack the bus three to a seat. These are school buses. When all seats are full, the drivers pack the aisles. Ellen & I had to get off a stop after ours because it took minutes to get through the mass of people in the aisle!
  • Drivers drive VERY fast trying to get to a stop before another bus.
  • At transfer points, buses often sit until enough people from other buses arrive.
  • The national police collect about 5-6Q per bus per day. This amounts to about 500Q which is turned into the chief. In turn the laws regarding capacity are not enforced.

This is a main reason why these buses continue to be referred to as chicken buses. Our version of people being treated as cattle.

An added bonus for us :-) There are callers who yell out (gritar) Guati, Guati, Guati (pronounced Whati) beginning at 5 a.m. This is done so people a block away will know the bus for Guatemala City has arrived.

So each morning you are greeted with a chorus of Guati, Guati, Guati!

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Thoughts on the amazing people I get to meet.

Rich, my 19 year old friend, soon to be Franciscan and recent community member at Haley House in Boston. An article he wrote.