This fifth video is mainly an ode to the big, green and white public buses I spent so much time on. Thousands of public buses flowed day and night through the streets of Santiago. Using a public bus was fairly straightforward. You first needed to buy a bip! card and put some money on it. Bip! cards were reusable plastic cards that you recharged with funds when needed. Bip! cards were accepted on both buses and subways and could be purchased at any subway station. Determining which bus you needed to take and where to catch the bus was a matter of having a good bus map. Above the windscreen on each bus was a number which corresponded to a route on the map. Once on the bus, you just swiped your bip! card and sat down, if there was a place to sit. Buses were usually crowded.
The most aggravating part of riding public buses was the drivers – most of them drove like complete assholes. Bus drivers frequently tailgated other cars and buses. Passengers standing on the bus held on tightly as the driver repeatedly slammed on the brakes to avoid slamming into the vehicle in front of him. On at least a half dozen occasions I witnessed people fall to the floor because the bus stopped violently.
When getting on a bus, the drivers never waited for passengers to find a place to sit or stand. This meant that people were still walking down the aisle when the bus lurched forward and took off. This utter disregard for passenger safety resulted in passengers getting injured, some seriously. I once watched a woman fall backwards before she reached her seat. She hit her head and neck on a step at the back of the bus and had to be taken away by ambulance. I feared that she might have been paralyzed. The bus driver’s reaction was to stay seated for a few minutes and curse his head off. Chileans are quite conservative in public, and only once did I hear someone say something to one of these crazy drivers. Guaranteed, such things would have gone differently in New York.
Other than the coming and going of buses, this video contains the requisite segment of Santiago street music. The guy playing the acoustic guitar with such dazzling skill is Francisco Vargas. Francisco and his bother Joel, a singer, formed the musical duet called Los Hermanos Vargas. Francisco and Joel were devout Evangelical Christians, and they mainly performed songs about God and Jesus. They were the best musicians I encountered in Santiago. I later friended them on Facebook. Soon after friending them, the brothers Vargas sent out a warning about Halloween, which was soon approaching. Their warning came in the form of an image of a beastly Satan standing in fire and holding a whip, with fiery text describing Halloween as a festival of the devil. Text under this image cautioned that participating in Halloween would lead to eternal damnation. Hardcore. And all those years I thought that Halloween was a celebration concocted by the Mars candy company.
The fountain toward the end of the video was located across from Plaza Italia, one of the busiest areas of the city. At night the fountain turned into a magnificent spectacle of water and lights. It was the most glorious and ingenious fountain I’ve seen. It’s common for newlyweds to get their picture taken at night in front of the illuminated, spurting water.