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Not Your Average Commute

I have just finished my first week of work at the University of San Buenaventura. Everyone tells me the commute will get old pretty quickly. I live in downtown and my school is a straight shot, inland about 7.5 miles (12 km) away. That sounds like a great commute to me. Let´s look at my options for modes of transportation and consider the roads:

Car -  I love driving, have no fear of crazy drivers and don't get aggravated during traffic jams. A used car sounds perfect but, getting a driver's license, registering the car, buying insurance and gas, and figuring out where to get it fixed without getting jipped sounds like a very expensive pain in the rear.

Bus - I could take the bus which costs 80 cents, but takes an 1 hr and 15 min. The streets are congested and narrow, especially in the market area. Buses twist and turn in the residential neighborhoods stopping at every corner while dodging motorcycles, horse carts, and children, if they are lucky. They are creating a new bus line called the TransCaribe with set stops and goes straight down the main avenue of Cartagena. However, it has been under construction since, the birth of Christ and will probably be finished seconds before the Apocalypse.

Taxi - Taking a taxi everyday would probably be cheaper than owning a car. It costs about $7 each way and takes 30 - 45 minutes depending on what obstacle we need to go around (flooded streets, tractor trailers backing up on main street, police checkpoint, anything you can imagine, etc.). Many drivers don't want to make the long 7.5 mile trek out there. It is better for them to do short runs in the tourist area. I would have to haggle, bargain, flirt, and get pissed off every morning to get the proper price. There are no meters which is very annoying for everyone including tourists, locals, and especially pearly white gringas. To make it worse, most drivers are very curious and ask a million questions, especially about my marital status. Depending on the day, I am usually married to a Colombian with two children . If I say I have an American husband, they still think they have a chance, but when I say  Colombian husband who is a lieutenant in the army, they usually shut up and turn up the radio.

Motorcycle Taxi - I have discovered that this my best mode of transportation for my commute. It is the most dangerous, but also economical and fast! I can be at work in 25 min for $3. Basically, I hail  a motorcycle whose driver is carrying an extra helmet for his fares. Negotiation is easy since, they are not used to gringos on the back of their bikes. The element of surprise can really get you a good price. Drivers are usually polite and ask about my work instead of who I am sleeping with right now. We talk about the value of English and how important it is for his children to learn it. As we pass through traffic in between cars, buses, and trucks, I often think about that this could be my last day on Earth. The brush with death everyday let´s me appreciate my every breath and makes the classroom even more sacred.

Video of my commute A Sunday Drive


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