Until this visit, transportation has always been by bus or bicycle. The buses are slow and they never go exactly where you want them to so a 20 minute drive sometimes turns into 90 minute trip using two bus lines. These bus companies are separate, private enterprises but somehow the bus fare is determined by the government and the salary of the drivers is provided by the government. I donīt really understand how it all works and I always get vague answers when I ask.
The inauguration of the new president is on August 15 so large numbers of government employees are on forced vacations, new government contracts are not being signed, and the government claims to have no money to pay people. A teacherīs strike over retirement benefits is ending and a couple of days ago there was a transit strike.
On Tuesday, we had been invited to my wifeīs God parentsī home for lunch but with no buses and two children, we werenīt going until they offered to pick us up in their little Toyota Starlet. No room for all of us so my wife and I followed on the bike.
We never went above 50 kph. Thatīs 30 mph. We could have followed them pretty easily on our tandem bicycle and even arrived first if we knew the way. The thing is that itīs normal to drive that way around here unless you have plenty of money, insurance, and a car thatīs in good condition.
We had a great time at their house. Good friends, great family, and excellent food. There was even a jakaré on the wall watching over us
as we patiently waited for the asadero to finish grilling the beef.
It was a one-day strike and we were back to the buses yesterday. I picked up some chicken on the way to Grandmaīs house on the bike and the family took two buses. We had a great family time again, but the bus trip back was apparently horrible. Two buses and both were packed so plenty of people were standing. Our little one did not want to sit so he kicked and cried and tried to leap from my wifeīs lap. Not fun.
Liliana is a friend who bought a motorcycle about five years ago. She was really slow and timid at first, but the freedom she has described is exactly why so many people use these cheap Chinese bikes as family transportation.