>> Sunday, May 24, 2009
In addition to the buses and micros that go from city to city in Nicaragua, larger cities like Managua and Masaya also have rutas or urbanos that are neighborhood buses within the city. In Masaya, for instance, there are rutas that go from the market to the neighborhoods of Monimbó, San Carlos, Sacuanjoche, La Villa, and El Estadio. All the rutas in Masaya cost C$3 (15 cents) no matter where you get on or off. I never ended up getting a bike, so I took the urbano to school every day (Paul always tried to make me feel guilty by saying a bike would be cheaper than the cost of the urbanos every day, but after doing the math, I realize my daily commute over these two years cost less than the three bicycles he bought).
The urbanos that go to Paul's school just got upgraded so they're now really nice charter buses, but most of them are just obnoxiously decorated school buses like the one I used to take to school when we lived in Monimbó:
When we moved to the stadium, my daily commute improved significantly (though it really wasn't bad to begin with). In Monimbó, there were only two urbanos and they stopped running to eat lunch between 12:15 and 1:00, which was exactly when I needed to go to school. Now in San Juan (our neighborhood) there are three urbanos that run all day; I can count on one to pass every eight minutes like clockwork, and I only have to walk a few steps from our front door to catch it. Here's the route our ruta takes (P.S. I'm proud of this map, and think I'm probably the first person to put a Masaya ruta's route on the Internet):
Here are our neighborhood rutas. This one is my favorite because there is more leg room, the seat covers aren't ripped as badly as in the others, the the cobrador (the guy who takes the money, standing in the second picture) is nice. It's parked in front of the market, and I always get off there then walk the block to school.
This is my second favorite ruta. Its driver doesn't really like to come to a complete stop for me to get off, so I always have to jump out really quickly.
This is our arch enemy ruta, though I've never been willing to wait the extra 8 minutes for another one to pass in order to boycott it. We hate it because the cobrador is mean and won't let Dora on; he tells us that dogs are prohibited, but this is clearly a lie since Dora has ridden on dozens of other buses in this country. Once I did spill a bag of dog food on this ruta and maybe that's why he's mad, but Dora had nothing to do with that. Besides, if he would have relaxed his no-dogs-on-the-bus rule, the spill would have been a non-issue, anyway.
I can only hope to find public transportation in Palo Alto that's both as convenient and cost-effective as the urbanos here. I'll keep you posted.