May 12, 2012

The Joys of Public Transportation

One often thinks of the many tasks and costs associated with owning a vehicle. For many there are the monthly payments, the necessary insurance and repairs and the constant need for more fuel. In general the process of car ownership has become a perceived necessity, a part of the American dream bequeathed at the tender age of sixteen. Of course some of that has changed with the rising cost of fuel and the slumping economy, requiring families to reduce and prioritize, causing drastic changes in one´s life. 

Cassie and I went "cold turkey" and almost rely entirely on public transportation here in Nicaragua, a fact that is not unusual for our organization, but a reality that also makes the jaws drop of many North Americans that we have met here. When we finish Spanish School each day we set out for the bus stop while many of our fellow students wait for their private, window tinted air conditioned rides. We pack on the bus, hoping for a seat, or at least a place to stand out of the sun.

The more difficult part is the amount of time it takes to reach your destination. It is very common for people in Nicaragua, when asked about a distance from here to there, to provide you with two times, one by bus, the other via one´s own car. On top of that there is no stopping at that cute little flower stand or the man who is always busy selling honey alongside the road.

The transition has definitely not been any easy one as Cassie as we have learned to depend on something outside of our own ability to get us from point A to B. There are times when we think about how great it would be to have our own vehicle to cruise along in the beautiful countryside on a Sunday afternoon or the simplicity car ownership would bring to our lives. But then we just have to look around and remind ourselves that most of the people here in Nicaragua do not have this option, a luxury that we often took for granted. It means something to them when we are sitting on the bus together. And on a positive note, I do not have to change oil, fix a broken down vehicle, change a tire or deal with the many hassles of car ownership, at least for awhile!

And to note, motorcycles do look quite appealing.  Although we are trying to weigh out the pro’s and con’s.

Pictures courtesy of Google Images.


Adam and Marisa said...

Well said! Hopping into a car and just cruising down the open road is sometimes one of the things I miss most about the U.S.

On the other hand, my trips on the bus are often times when I feel the most "normal" or "one with the people" here in Nicaragua and I wonder how different my perspective would be I if I could zip around in my private car.

Shawna Lane said...

Go for the motorcycle!