After spending an hour of every Wednesday night in traffic or on a bus driving far too fast (think the movie Speed); I was determined to use the subway to get to the far side of town brought on by the recently read informative blog by one of the foreigners out here who had ridden this newly opened stretch of underground track. I was excited and was willing to walk the half mile or so total required to get to and from the house and final destinations from the metro. The normal routes on the metro here are convenient, reliable, and fast. They aren't incredibly dirty. A good mix of the population use them who are teaming with personality. The billettes cost about R2.65 which equates to about $1.48. Bargain.
I get going and get off at my first stop and go visit some new friends and future coworkers. Great.
I climb back down to connect to the newest metro stop on the yellow line- Feria Lima which.
But to my surprise and disappointment, the passage way from Consolacion to Paulista metro stations closes everyday at 3pm. At first not understanding, my thought was "Hey there isn't a World Cup game today..this thing should be open". For some reason the yellow, a major subway line, their newest one, is actually closed on a busy weekday. There were not postings, just three metro workers that basically said in a friendly way- "tough luck that's Brazil for ya".
I ate the R2.65 and made my way through the crowd, surface, and seek out the bus another 5 minutes walk away. I waited for the onibus that had my destination written on the side and hopped on. I squeeze onto a bus where patrons are pressed up against one another, probably because the subway is not up after 3, and those entering pay the turn stall guard and move to the back and find a seat or railing to hold on for dear life. People are quiet. Its hot. One woman offered me unsolicited help recommending that I exit the other side of the bus at the next stop, but I wasn't yet getting off. 10 minutes after entering, due to the unique addition of bus lanes here and there- all over the city, I was at my destination and on time. No parking fee. No traffic holding me up. Only slight hassle. This was easy.
On the way home I try to buy gum and all I have is a large bill and no one is accepting it. I was reminded of a commercial I had seen previously where a man is shown time and time again given candy, a pile of coins, or like me, just plain refused when paying with a larger bill. I had not yet experienced this. After three tries I realized it was useless and boarded the onibus. It was a direct route to my closest metro station. Great news. If only the turnstile guard would accept my R50 bill. He didn't. He brushed me off and I took my place next to his booth in a nearly empty front section of the bus while the back was full. I asked a few times in my caveman portuguese "Why can't I pay", knowing the reasons from the comical commericals. The slender young man with nicely combed soft light brown hair looks at me and repeats, "Só cinquenta" or "Only R50". But yet, he wasn't kicking me off. Confused again, I tried to make sense of this, explaining to him that my "Portuguese is few" and he began to warm up, he was no longer this vender of NO's, he told me I "could get off soon", this become more confusing.
I continued to practice the language and we got to talking. He is a 22 year old who lives in the southern part of the city, prefers it to the center because it is a bit slower paced. As the bus stopped intermittently to let passengers on or off, he carried the conversation, never breaking focus. He continued to talk as he collected exact change and passenger's cards were being swiped. This was very much his turf. He continued talking about his trip to London, and sentiments of Brazil, the language, and asked me about LA; we had been talking for 20 minutes. In the end, he signaled to the bus driver, using a screw nut tightly fastened to the railing of the bus by a rubber band, and the bus driver opened the front doors and I exited unquestioned. I tapped on the glass to thank him and he replied with a smile and thumbs up.