Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Mini-Bus FAQs

Ever since I got to my site, the only form of public transportation I’ve had is the mini-bus. The name sounds misleading so I’ve decided to do an FAQ session about mini-busses in Guyana.

What is a mini-bus?
A mini-bus is a small van that can legally seat 15 people, but usually seats 20 or more. They drive like 16-year-old boys who just obtained their license and had about 3 bottles of beer before jumping in the driver seat. They drive along the road and pick up passengers randomly along the way. Think of it as a big cab you have to share with everyone.

What does a mini-bus look like?
You can recognize it by the reggae music blasting about a mile away. When sitting in a mini-bus your eardrums tickle and your clothes vibrate from the bass.

When it drives closer, you can see colorful stickers and labels on the front window with prominent United States rappers and/or their rap songs and/or the driver's girlfriend’s name (e.g.: G-unit, Feel da Rhythem [sic], Magic Stick, Howard and Christina for-eva)


This is what a pretty mini-bus would look like. I have yet to see one.

How do I pick a mini-bus?
I’ve been told by the US Embassy that we should choose our mini-busses carefully. The road I live off of is the East Bank Highway, and by “highway” I mean a 2 way street that pedestrians and cows walk along as well. Oftentimes drivers will turn the two lanes into three lanes and will not slow down for pedestrians or oncoming traffic. They will, however, start braking a mile away if they see a cow.

To pick a mini-bus, you should find the oldest rattiest one. Why? Because this means it’s been driving for a long time and still hasn’t gotten in an accident.

Also, on a side note, my biggest fear is no longer getting a malaria or typhoid, but that I will get run over by a mini-bus since there are no side walks.

How do I catch one?
You just stick your hand out like you’re hailing a cab. Point straight to go all the way into town, point down to stop somewhere in the middle, and point up to go to the airport. One will stop and pick you up. If the bus is full, the driver will stick his hand out the window and shrug. Wah-Wah.

Can you tell me about your experience so far in a mini-bus?
One day we walked out to catch a mini-bus going into town. (town= Georgetown, not short for the name, but because it is the only town in the country.) Outside there was a man named Byron who shouted across the street, “Hey Chinese girl, you know [last year’s volunteer]”

He came over and offered to catch a mini-bus for us. He let a couple pass and I asked him if he was really catching us one.

“One come just now, right? No problem, no problem”
“No, not just now Byron, I want a mini-bus right now.”

The sun was vicious that morning and we were sweating buckets. Byron tried a few more times and they wouldn’t stop for him or he let them pass. This charade continued for 25 minutes before I got tired of his lackadaisical attitude and told him he had one more chance. When the next bus flew by, I fired him, walked up the street and caught a mini-bus in 45 seconds.

Mental note: Don't let Guyanese men hail mini-busses for you.


Anonymous said...

Yvonne. I don't think Byron was trying to get a ride for you as much as he was trying to get one for himself. And by ride, I'm not referring to the minibus.

He must have been assuming if he spent more time with you, it would be the equivalent of a date. And you know what happens when you go out on a "date" in Guyana. SCORE! For Byron at least.

Do you want me to send you a bicycle? Can you buy one in G'town? If you can, I'll wire you money and you can buy yourself a bike... or pay a Guyanan to carry you on their back to town.

Ok. Have fun, be safe and ...

Start posting pictures already!!!

Anonymous said...

the traffic situation sounds very much like that in those asian cities. i thought you're gonna get a bike there. anyway, dont worry. your asian genes will help you get thru this. still, keep away from the reckless drivers as well as cows and other animals. be safe! <3 f

Vicky said...

Youre a great writer! I'm not the jealous type but I find myself wishing I were there too! =)

wawa said...

as i was reading your story, i was thinking it was b/c of smelly pits... but nvm. keep writing.