Things We’ll Miss About Montevideo

Public transportation and walking, and the fact that public transportation is cheap (about $1 to ride the bus and about $7 for a 20 min taxi ride).

– Fresh pasta.

– The Ramblas.

Fresh produce and farmer’s markets.

– The new friends that we’ve made.

– The laid-back attitude.

– Being able to pay for everything in one location. Paying bills, charging cell phones, and buying tickets to events can all be done at the Abitab. And there is never a shortage of Abitab locations.

– Well behaved dogs everywhere. They don’t harass people, they run around without leashes, and they even know how to cross the street without getting run over (which is sometimes challenging for their human counterparts).

Game night group.

– Face to face time with coworkers (Asa).

Empanadas!

Uruguayan greetings.

– Lack of excessive rules, regulations, and safety measures. People generally seem to be smart about what they do like driving, walking down sidewalks laced with construction, or traversing near open windows in 9th floor apartments.

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Entertainment on the Bus

You may think that riding public transportation is boring. Well, not in Montevideo or Buenos Aires.

Here in Montevideo, people are allowed on the bus, free of charge, if they are trying to raise money for a cause, trying to sell something, or offer some kind of entertainment.

The most common causes for trying to raise money seem to be religious, but every so often a group holds a fundraising event throughout the entire city. For example, a couple weekends ago, a group very similar to Habitat for Humanity did a fundraising event. They had hundreds of people out in the city, on street corners, on the buses, and in the squares asking for donations.

People also try to sell just about everything on buses. We have seen people selling socks, pens and pencils, and stickers. I have even seen someone get on a bus selling candy. He had a piece of cardboard about 3x3ft that had every kind of candy imaginable attached to it. It took him almost 5 min to list out all the different types he had. A common technique of people selling things on buses is to walk down the aisle placing their wares in the laps of the passengers, then pick them up on the way back to the front of the bus hoping that someone wants to buy something. Sometimes this can be a little disconcerting, but from our experience, completely harmless.

The best entertainment on the bus is when someone gets on that actually wants to entertain the crowd. This will include musicians, magicians, and comedians. The people of Montevideo seem to reward the hard work of these entertainers and rarely do they leave the buses empty-handed. Some of these entertainers are very talented and they make the bus ride much better than if they were not present. The best show that we have seen occurred on the Buenos Aires subway. A magician got in and proceeded to do a variety of magic tricks with scarves, cards, and making things disappear and reappear. It was a very well done magic show and lasted for almost 15 minutes. He definitely deserved the bundle of change that he was rewarded with.

Every couple of weeks we encounter people playing the guitar and singing on the bus. Some are better than others, but none of them (so far) have really sucked. Matt was rewarded with probably the best singer/guitar player that we’ve heard on the bus on the last day he was here.

Buenos Aires Public Transportation

This past weekend we found ourselves in Buenos Aires again. There was a small ultimate tournament there that Matt and Asa both played in. Asa and I booked a hotel in the downtown area of Buenos Aires because we didn’t know the field location until two days before the tournament. Luckily for us, the public transportation in Buenos Aires is very extensive and includes buses, subways, and trains.

Buenos Aires is full of buses and anyone can take them for a small fee of about $0.25 US, and they go everywhere in the city. The following are a couple of problems with taking the bus.

1. Figuring out which bus to take. There are more than 100 different bus routes throughout the city. Luckily there is a nice website that can be used to find the correct route, that is, once you figure out how to use the website!

2. Finding change. There is a coin shortage in Argentina and the buses only take change. Stores will ask repeatedly if you have correct change and will sneer at you when you don’t. There are several card payment systems that have been installed in all realms of public transport in the last 5 years. On our last visit we obtained a SUBE card which helped us on our way.

3. If you’re in a hurry, forget it. Take a taxi! Traffic can be really bad in the city and the buses take forever.

The subway in Buenos Aires is fairly easy to take, but it is sometimes very crowded, only goes to certain locations, and can be a mecca for thieves who work together to target tourists. When my parents visited us in Buenos Aires their camera got stolen on the subway, despite being very vigilant.

Knowing these things, we decided that we would investigate train options this time around. We took the train the last time we were in the city and thought it was nice. Upon investigation, we discovered that there are not one, but three different train lines servicing parts of the city. Only one of these lines is included in the website (above) that shows the bus routes. We found the line that stopped near our destination and could get there and back for about $0.30 US each. Trains left every 15 minutes all day long and we could arrive at our destination in 11 minutes. The equivalent bus ride would have taken upwards of 45 minutes.

The train station at our destination

The three train stations are next to each other. Lining the streets outside the stations are vendors selling everything from donuts to alarm clocks to shoes. Beyond the vendors, in the street, is one of the most extensive bus stops I have ever seen. There were more than 5 lanes that buses could enter, which each had approximately 20 stops arranged adjacent to each other. It took up almost two whole blocks.

Only a small portion of the bus stop. Each covered area is the stop for a different bus line.

Here’s to public transportation making our lives easier and relatively hassle free!

 

Getting Around Town: The Bus Edition

Not a lot of people in Montevideo own cars. The majority of people either walk or take the bus to get around town. This results in a couple of things:

1. There aren’t a whole lot of cars on the road. But beware, cars have the right-of-way here unless there is a stoplight or a crosswalk painted with white diagonals. This can be a pain in the butt at a busy street, but jay-walking is a common occurrence.

2. There are a whole lot of people on the bus. There are many stops (“paradas”) and many different routes that take people to all corners of the city and the suburbs. The buses don’t have air conditioning. It would be pointless with all the people and all the stops; the windows just stay open.

We all took our first trip on the bus yesterday to the frisbee fields in town. Luckily we had the help of a new-found ultimate frisbee friend who came to our house to get us. He showed us which bus to take and how to actually do it. We were all a little worried, as we had seen tons of buses but couldn’t figure out how one would actually pay to ride. The bus costs $19 pesos, about $1US, for each ride. You can purchase a more expensive 2 hour ticket if you want, which allows you to ride as many different buses for that amount of time, but I think that’s still a bit advanced for us.

Our friend showed us where the nearest bus stop was to our house and which bus to take. In every bus there is a driver and a ticket seller. The ticket seller sits on one side of the bus and will take your money and give you a ticket in exchange. He will also give you change if you need it. After you have gotten your ticket you either find a seat (rare during peak hours), or you hoof it as far back as you can in the bus and try not to fall over.

We got to see a lot of the city during the hour long ride to the fields. Not all rides take this long, but the fields that the City of Montevideo has given the ultimate team to play on are in the suburbs. We are told that there’s not a shorter way to get to the fields unless you want to pay for a taxi. Ah well, sometimes time seems to have a different meaning here anyway.