There are no bus stops in Trujillo, instead you will find locals leaning off sidewalks – toes tipping off the curb waving their hand to flag down the bus they need. It is then up to the cobrador the collector to signal to the driver to stop immediately by whistling and whacking on the side of the bus as loudly as he can. The driver will then plunge the bus to the side of the road as the cobrador hops off, guides passengers onto the bus. He then hops back on to continue to the next group of hand waves a half a kilometer down the road.
Bus travel in Peru is by far the cheapest way to get around town. The streets are swarming with`micros`(mEE-crows) which swing between lanes dodging taxis and camionetas as they can. From what I have gathered, each bus driver keeps a twelve hour shift, and has the freedom to change routes anytime they feel necessary. You pay one sol every time you ride equivalant to ¢ .30, and that can take you as far as you would like to go, whether its to the central Plaza, or to Huanchaco ten miles down the beach front drag.
With such an inexpensive resource, the demand for a ride is high. There is no limit to the number of passengers that can board. The number merely depends on how many people the cobrador will squeeze on the bus at one time. Passengers are packed like sardines. To make sure passengers are aware of their surroundings, the cobrador will shout things like ‘farmacia!’ or ‘mall’ and a chorus of people will reply ‘bajo, bajo!’ or ‘I get off, I get off!’
I would like for you to keep in mind Newton’s first law of motion: Inertia – An object in motion wants to stay in motion.
..That goes for the bus and all of the passengers onboard. Coming to an abrupt stop will throw the bus and the 20 people standing behind you forward – you must hold on.
In riding the micro today, the cobrador and truck driver shot each other a glance of satisfaction as the bus bottomed out on a speed bump. While the passengers were tossed into each other, I could see the two were proud. Business was good.
Business relies on the number of rides they give in a day, the tighter the squeeze, the bigger the profit. Walking down the street can be just as rowdy as walking through aisles of vendors in the central market. Each table has their own goods to sell, each bus has their own vacancies.
Business relies on the number of rides they give in a day, the tighter the squeeze, the bigger the profit. Walking down the street can be just as rowdy as walking through aisles of vendors in the central market. Each table has their own goods to sell, each bus has their own vacancies. And so the cobrador becomes the seller, the driver provides the resource. A good cobrador shouts and whistles at pedestrians making sure if they’ve so much as thought of going to the centro, they know there is room on his bus and his bus will get them there faster than the one behind it.
The two must read each other, and read each other well. If the cobrador misses a step, he could end up getting trampled.. or worse, lose business.
If you have the chance to ride a Micro, savor the rush of grabbing a hold of anything you can find, planting your foot on the first step and hoisting your self onto the bus. Then imagine what it would be like to do that every minute of every hour for 12 hours straight. All for revenue, for both you and your driver.