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Published: April 18th 2006
In the movie “Speed,” a ludicrous thriller starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock, a terrorist plants a bomb on a bus, a bomb set to explode if the bus drops below 50 miles per hour. They never could’ve set that story in Paraguay, first they measure speed in kilometers per hour, and second the buses rarely travel slow enough to have ever been in any danger. Of course that is an exaggeration, the buses did have to stop after all, but most of the time, like every other vehicle on the road, they moved fast.
There were plenty of other vehicles in Paraguay, including gas guzzling SUVs that would’ve been at home on any highway in the United States. But most people in the country travel by foot or on a bus. City buses, like those we used to get around Asunción, are fast, noisy and bone rattling. Good enough for short trips. The long distance buses that we took between cities were nicer. They actually had shock absorbers, air-conditioning (although it didn’t always work) and occasionally televisions to help pass the time. Bus passengers didn’t use the buses to just transport themselves; they carried all kinds of packages, bundles
Riding on a Bus
Note the little girl sitting in the front of the bus. There are no white lines on the buses in Paraguay that you have to stand behind.
and cargo. And it was not unusual, when the bus stopped, for vendors to climb on a try to sell soft drinks or food (I recommend not buying beef empanadas from bus vendors) or children would climb on with well produced four color brochures or cards to beg for money.
Although safety does not appear to be great concern for people in Paraguay, not as many people are hit by buses as you might expect. Maybe they are just more alert to the dangers. In the US we depend on regulations to keep us safe as opposed to our own sharp senses. In Paraguay, they just pay attention. Their lives depend on it.
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