|On the Side|
ON THE SIDE
- The usual suspects are here, Pizza Hut, Burger King, but McDonalds have left leaving some hamburger joints with big M's, and known as Mmmmm's!! The big McDonalds signs are covered in -plastic.
- Food for breakfast has included fried bananas, eggs tomatoes, pancakes Mashed up beans.
The beans are manageable - the bananas are not! Lately I have found out they're not bananas at all but something else - they are still no more palatable .....Other meals, rice, good vegies, occasional chicken, and capsicum - mostly good balance in the meals.
- No grog allowed but no one told our group! - but then on our second last morning at San Gabriel we were offered some beer with lunch!!! - They must have become reformed Baptists!!
- Bus drivers and their off-siders - just wonderful - these young blokes act as runners, guides and conductors both on the big buses and the combi vans - they leap in an out, almost climb onto the roof to negotiate crossings and corners, cos that's how it works, you negotiate - they reckon Rome's a bit special for its traffic, but it's nothing on this joint!
We rode in buses, minibuses, the back of utes - paying as we went. Sean has a remarkable ability to spot a promising transport option and then negotiate a deal with the driver - several times like our drive home after dinner on the 26th, we flagged down a young bloke in a minibus who agreed to take us home, and drove like the wind - apparently his job is to pick up late night workers and run them home. He was not supposed to pick up random fares like us, so he drove fast so no one would catch him - and at the end of the journey he refused any payment at all.Then there was the minibus that we crammed into on the way back from Barrio Mexicanos and when all the other passengers got out, for 15 colones the guy agreed to take us to the restaurant we wanted which was not on his route at all.. Imagine what it would be like at home if there was such flexibility and you could negotiate your way around like that.
- The people greet you readily and often warmly - the children and youth are superb of course and all respond to a sense of fun - it's a universal language - connections happen quickly this way.
- I love the bustle and dust of the city and the hawkers and the traffic - though it's not always easy breathing. The place is alive with a kind of purposeful energy - a purpose deeper than shallow economics, probably a bit more like survival and family, and getting ahead......including economics but almost certainly not reduced to that - e.g. the ute that we got to pick us up late that first night at the Mexican restaurant up the hill when we couldn't get a bus - when Sean offered to pay the driver the reply was "No need - pay me next time!"