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Monday, February 18, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day to Montevideo's bus drivers

The Mick Jagger hair, big toothy smile, and choice of music distinguished this bus driver as out of the ordinary.  As Joshua and I boarded the empty bus in Ciudad Vieja, he looked at me through his shades and confirmed that yes, we were going to go down San Martin.  “Bueno. Gracias,” I said.

We had just taken our seats when the seasoned driver, large hairy arm draped over the steering wheel, stopped the bus quickly but without jolting us.  We weren’t at the next bus stop that soon. What was going on?

I looked out the window to my right and saw another bus facing ours at a right angle, just inches away.  The young, clean cut driver of the other bus looked horrified, eyes bugging out and mouth open.  The near accident was clearly his fault. 

Waiting for bus #456
Before I had a chance to wonder what would happen next, our driver yelled,
¿Un choque, mi amor? ¡Una cosa mas barbara! ¡ja, ja, ja!
(Translation: An accident, my love?  Way cool!  Ha, Ha, Ha!)
Joshua asked me, “Mom, did he say ‘mi amor’”? “Yes….”  I replied, the realization sinking in that I hadn’t heard any cursing or angry outbursts.  Last week a friend witnessed a brawl between two passengers, but this exchange was clearly humorous not heated.
I try to have a good attitude when
I have to wait another 20 minutes
As we headed off again, our driver honked to other drivers, waving, and rocked to the beat as he pulled over at the next few stops.  Drivers here get to choose the music they want to blast on the bus, and he turned up the volume when he heard an old song by Twisted Sister.  This driver gets the “barbaro” award. 
I love learning the nuances of a new culture, and the bus is my favorite classroom.  It still cracks me up how the drivers hang out of their windows at stop lights and call each other "Mi Amor."  What a ride.

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