So, for all of you who plan on doing some Latin American traveling, pay attention.
The bus in Latin America is a very important thing. There is always an acceptable social dynamic, acceptable way of hailing and acceptable way of paying for the bus.
Let's start with paying...in Ecuador everything goes. If you have 25 pennies, by all means pay the bus chofer in pennies. He is not going to be happy, but he is also not going to complain; it is money after all. In Chile you do NOT pay with coins. There is a special card that you have to buy called the Bip and it costs about $1.25 to ride the bus, gross. The funny thing is when your Bip doesn't have any 'saldo' or money on it. The machine makes an obnoxious beep beep beep letting EVERYONE on the bus know that YOUR card doesn't have any more saldo. You then proceed to give puppy dog eyes to the bus driver who usually (but not always) just lets you stay on his bus. phew, part one.
Part two: how to hail the bus in the first place. . . busses in Ecuador will stop anywhere. Literally anywhere you maybe, possible stuck your arm out a little bit into the road you will have a bus waiting for you. In Chile there are designated bus stops and if you are not at a bus stop, there is no sympathy from either the bus driver or the general populous of the bus. It is also socially acceptable to push and shove your way onto the bus, instead of acting like the adults we are, even though EVERYONE knows that the bus is going to wait until everyone is on to start moving. For some strange reason people feel the need to elbow their way onto these busses that, in the end, just aren't that packed. Or....at least they're not 'Ecuador packed'
Part Three: acceptable bus behaviour
DO NOT TALK TO ANYONE YOU DON"T KNOW OR ELSE!! haha, JK, though it is not an official rule, it is considered quite strange to strike up a conversation with the person sitting in the seat next to you just for conversation's sake. It is also (unfortunately) acceptable to ALWAYS take the outside seat of a pair of seats FIRST so that when another person arrives and wants to sit in that window seat, they have to ask the other person to move..squeeze by them when they only swing their feet into the isle and then proceed to do the same thing when they need to get off. JUST SIT IN THE WINDOW SEAT FIRST PEOPLE.
People are strange. However, it is common to give old ladies seats on the bust when they get on which I like. Despite all the woes of city busses, they do have that going for them. I'm pretty sure the drivers just get bored sometimes though and drive as violently as possible just to watch their passengers fall all over the bus. I'm sure it would be amusing if I were sitting in front with a seatbelt too sir, but I"M NOT.