Transportation Field Note

There are more ways to travel in Chile than just two feet. Can you guess what those other ways are?

There are many modes of transportation that are the same as the United States. Some of these you will be familiar with and some may come as a surprise. How many different ways of getting around can you name? Which ones do you think they have here? Which ones do you think they do not have here and why?

How do people get around?: 

One of the most common ways to get around is definitely by your own two feet. This not only saves money, but is healthy too. Personally my favorite mode of transportation is my bicycle. A bicycle is definitely beneficial to help me go exploring and to get places faster. Cars and motorcycles are common here. The cars are the same as we have in the United States, most common being a sedan or small compact car. Buses are another mode you are probably already familiar with. There are different types of buses for different purposes. A large comfortable buses for long trips, a smaller city buses for going around the city and a tourist bus that has two levels and is more open for sightseeing. I have seen some people on horses, but that is not common. Horses and buggy however are very common, especially around the parks or the beach. This is more of an activity versus a way of transportation, but I have seen it used as both. The metro or what I call the subway is a mode of transportation for longer journeys or going across the city rapidly. Taxis are seen frequently here and easy to hail. This is more expensive than the taxi colectivo. The difference between the two is the taxi colectivo just runs a certain route and a taxi will go anywhere. There are many different colectivos running different routes. This is probably one of the number one ways to travel here. Another common, but unusual way to travel here is by what are called a funicular. These are large boxes on a track that people stand on and go up and down the hill.

How did I feel when I tried this way of getting around?: 

I would have to describe the funicular as simply fun. Chilean people take this mode of transportation as a part of their daily lives, so they do not find it as enjoyable as I did. The colectivos were different, similar to riding in a bus. Colectivos run like a bus, but with smaller routes. The colectivo will take as many people as it can fit in the small car, similar to a much smaller, more compact bus or sharing a taxi with a lot of other people. People are constantly getting in and out of the colectivo so you ride with strangers. Everyone pays $350 pesos per ride in a colectivo. I found the colectivo convenient and enjoyable, but at times trying to find an empty one can be frustrating. I also felt rude, like I was trying to take someone else’s taxi or jumping into theirs the first few times. This feeling went away as I got use to just jumping in a car full of people. The buses, taxis and metro where all similar to the United States, so I felt comfortable using these. The horse and carriage I would feel very relaxed using for fun on a Sunday afternoon!

Is this way of getting around connected to the culture and environment, How?: 

Due to the steep terrain here the people need to travel up and down hills often. To go to school or work in the morning walking up and down steep hills can be difficult, so they have funiculars. This is a necessity for the elderly, sick and just plain tired. These hills are very big. The horses and carriages are definitely part of the scenic landscape here. Discovering them at the beach and parks seemed almost natural. The colectivos are part of the friendly Chilean culture. It was odd for me to kiss everyone hello all the time when I first arrived, but the people here are friendly and affectionate. I think the colectivos reflect that part of the Chilean culture. Hoping into a crowded, small car full of strangers seems to bring the people closer.

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