It’s been a while since I’ve cruised the bus scene in Rio de Janeiro. I’m lucky enough to be able fulfill most of my needs in my neighborhood and get basically everywhere else by metro. But sometimes I need to go elsewhere so I’ve decided to get back to my roots (and try to keep some change in my pocket). Back to the bus it is.
You’ve got to love the process of riding the bus. You stand on the edge of the curb and watch the buses hurl themselves down the street. The speed these buses get driving on cramped city streets is a sight to see. And then there comes the part of catching yours.
It’s kind of like picking out one wild horse in the middle of a stampede. You wave for it, call it, and then run to it while trying not to get run over by the other ones.
Once aboard, you must hold on for dear life because that bad boy is not slowing down just to accommodate you. It doesn’t matter how much you kick or scream, the other riders will just think you’re nuts. Have your money in your hand, hold onto one of the bars, and be ready to hold yourself up. The bus will be moving as soon as the driver can manage to close the door on the last passenger.
So once you catch your wild pony, you have to be ready to dive off at your stop. The money collectors are great sports about pointing out where you need to go so don’t be afraid ask. Use charades if necessary, and pay attention. The person screaming “MOÇA, Agora” is talking to you, that is unless you’re a man.
At the stop before yours, it’s wise to move from your place and get to the back of the horse. These buses kick just the same so be ready. And mind the last step. There’s nothing more embarrassing than falling out of a bus.
And enjoy the ride! I love the bus! It’s like your own cheap tour of the city, with locals included. Let’s not forget the people watching aspect.
Buses in Rio can take you anywhere you want to go and even more places you don’t! They are convenient, easy to find, fun to hail like a cab, and economical. Be sure you know the number of the bus or location you want to go to. If you are in doubt, ask the bus driver from the door. He’ll tell you if you should take that bus or which one is best. Last thing you want to do is end up lost in Tijuca when you were really headed to Jardim Botanicos.
So ride the bus, hold on, and take a look around. This is Rio baby!