Do any of you know how to use roller blades or maybe even a skateboard? It has been a very long time since I used either of these, but I might just start using them again here in Chile. Roller blading and skateboarding are two of the transportations methods many people use to get around here in Viña del Mar. It is really cool! These aren’t the only ways people get to other places, though.
The micro, metro(Chilean subway), bus, taxi, and collectivo are some of the options of transportation available. The micro is a vehicle that looks like a bus and takes you to different places around Viña del Mar or to cities close to it. For example, yesterday my friends and I took a micro to Con Con, a city close to Viña del Mar, to go horseback riding along the beach. It cost us about 300 Chilean pesos, which would equal to about 70 cents in the United States. It was about a 30-minute ride for less than one U.S. dollar! The micro is the cheapest transportation system besides walking, of course.
Now that I mentioned walking, one of the really nice things about Viña del Mar is that everything is so close, which allows people to walk everywhere. I have been here for almost a month and I barely took my first micro to Con Con yesterday. I take the university bus to school everyday, but that’s only because the university is on top of a large hill. I try to avoid taxis because they are extremely expensive. Collectivos look exactly like taxis, but, unlike taxis, they do not take you to a specific place. Collectivos drop you off anywhere in the main street here in Viña called Calle Libertad, but never go into smaller streets.
Although many people own a car, many others do not. My host parents do not own a car because they say they don’t feel the need to since they can walk everywhere. It is very common for people to walk to school or work. The second most common way people get around is by using the micro. It is very cheap and makes many stops that leave people close to wherever they are going.
It is also common for people to use collectivos, which also drop you off at any street that you want. They will not drop you off outside of your destination, but they will drop you off on that street. They look exactly like taxis, but operate almost just like micros. They are also quite cheap. Taxis are usually avoided because they are very expensive. I took a taxi from my house to my university, which are only about 8 minutes apart, and it cost 4,500 Chilean pesos. If you did the math for this one, you will see that it cost me $9.57 US dollars just for an 8-minute trip.
I really love walking everywhere because it gives me the chance to explore Viña as I am walking, and it is also great excercise (and free!). I don’t really take the bus unless it is to the university. Yesterday was my first time riding a micro and it was a lot more nice and comfortable than I thought. It is interesting to see because, when the micro gets too full and all the seats are gone, people stand up and grab on to some bars on the roof of the micro in order to not fall.
When I took the micro I realized how normal it is for people to always take a bus everywhere. Even if the bus is full, they are willing to stand up inside the bus for the entire ride. We are so used to driving a car everywhere in the United States so it was great to experience to use Chile’s most common form of transportation. I felt like a Chilean who had been taking the micro my whole life, especially since I was one of the people who had to stand up and grab on to the bars for a few minutes.