May 16, 2007


I spoke of the crowded buses earlier, which I found out aren't operated by the city of San Salvador but are all private. Imagine, all these private buses tooling up and down the street!

I learned a little of the dangers of the crowded buses yesterday. I went to the bus stop. I was a little later than usual. The stop was crowded, meaning a bus hadn't come in a while. I let the first bus pass because it was absolutely packed. The second, a minibus, was very comical. It was packed to, but still a guy who rides with the bus was trying to get people to jump on. And people did while he berated them to hurry up and jam themselves in. By the time he was finished, there were about 6 guys including himself hanging on to the little step into the bus, clinging however they could to keep from falling off while the minibus lurched down the street, dangerously tilted to one side.

A third bus came, and I couldn't wait any longer. I got on. It was very crowded and we were packed in like sardines. At the university, the bus emptied and I took a seat. I got off as usual and walked to the language school.

Four hours later, I decided to get some lunch with a couple of other people. I went to pull out my money, and it was gone. I figure I was picked on the bus, but it also could have been at the stop where I remember a guy stood very near me and another guy brushed me when he walked past. I heard that the pickpockets work in teams, with one providing the distraction while the other reaches in. Fortunately, I wasn't carrying a lot of cash, about $15 in my pocket, so it wasn't a great loss to me though it would have fed me lunch into next week.

It's hard, after experiences like this, to not think that San Salvador is a lawless place. You have to worry about gangs, who have been known to board buses and rob people in broad daylight. You have to worry about walking into the wrong neighborhoods. You have to always look and be vigilant. I've lived in inner-city Milwaukee and in New Orleans, which was practically one big inner-city, and I have never felt so vulnerable as I have here in San Salvador. Of course, getting pick pocketed could have happened in any city on earth. It's just that in San Salvador, well, it just seems like you should expect it, whereas everywhere else it seems a little more random, a little less desperate.


Blogger Mary B. said...

I'm just glad that it was a pick pocket and not a mugger. Being beaten for $15 dollars would have been far worse. Maybe you can find a hidey hole for your money when you are out in the streets like in your socks or pinned to the inside of your shirt. When you get to where you are going, slip into a restroom and put the money into your pocket. It makes for sweaty money, but at least its still there when you need it. Take care of yourself, Mike! :)

2:06 PM  
Blogger Claudia said...

Been there...done that! As Mary said, thank God, it was just a pick pocket, and not anything worst. I got held up at gun point on 42-C Especial on my way to la Matias, and it was horrible. Hope things have been better for you. Wish you the best...Claudia

5:08 PM  

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