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.

Street Market

The street markets are definitely where it’s at! They have fresh and yummy tasting produce out the wazoo, and it’s cheaper than the supermarket. There are no barriers closing the street from traffic, but there isn’t really room for cars to pass. Every once in a while a motorcycle rides through slowly and people just get out of the way.

At one end of the market there are people who display wares for sale. For example, today I saw that someone had a pair of jeans to sell, while someone else had some trinkets. I didn’t see anyone actually buying anything and it seems like the people might be set up there on the off chance that someone saw something they just “had to have”. It reminded me of a garage sale, but on a much smaller scale.

The produce stalls make up the majority of the market. All of the stalls seem to have very fresh produce and a much wider variety than in the supermercado. At the majority of produce stalls the sellers will hand you a plastic bag or you grab one yourself and place what you want in it; each type of item in a separate bag. They then weigh the bags; writing each total on a slip of paper to be added at the end. There was one produce stall that stumped us; the biggest one. I guess we just weren’t paying enough attention, but we walked behind the stall to the second row of veggies and grabbed what we wanted. Little did we know, but at this stall everyone is suppose to take a number and then when your number is called you tell the sellers what you want and they put them in plastic bags and weigh them. The seller didn’t seem angry when I handed him the bag with our two bell peppers and said “es todo”. I was prepared to tell him that we didn’t understand and I was sorry, but he didn’t seem to care.

Just one of the many produce stalls!

There were two trucks that opened up to sell goods out of their sides. One was a cheese truck and the other was the local fish truck. We have been told that the fish is very good, but we were a bit too timid to try it today.

The fish man. Maybe next time we'll have the courage to try some of the fish.

The cheese truck also has an add-on of an egg-man. He sells individual eggs if you want them or in a dozen (“una docena”) and wraps them in newspaper for you to take home.

Eggs for sale! He had both brown and white eggs. We got the brown ones. The brown ones were a bit more expensive, but we figured that must mean that they're better!

All the produce is for sale in kilograms and is remarkably cheap. We got potatoes, garlic, apples, bananas, nectarines, carrots, bell peppers, onions, and eggs for $174 pesos which is about $8US.

Our Spoils!