The easiest cheapest transportation around these parts is absolutely free! That would be your feet. We do a lot of walking around here. We don't own a vehicle and don't plan on buying one. The tax on a vehicle here is 200%. We may, hopefully soon, get a scooter or motorcycle.
The traffic around here is pretty crazy. If there is an inch of room some sort of vehicle will move in that spot. There isn't a dividing line on the road, although they do drive on the left side of the road. If the person in front of you is driving too slow you just honk your horn and go around even if there is a giant bus headed towards you. The philosophy is, if there is an inch take it!
Surprisingly in a city with 5 million people in it and everyone driving crazily there aren't many accidents. Crossing the road around here is pretty crazy too. I feel like I'm playing frogger. When crossing the road you obviously don't walk in front of the buses and cars, but you are supposed to walk in front of the motorcycles. That's what they expect you to do. You are supposed to walk in a straight steady line and they anticipate what you are going to do.
This past weekend we got a chance to "cross the street" with our whole family. It was great fun! NOT! Even Jason said, "I'm scared mom!" I was too, but I didn't tell him that. I just said hold my hand and don't let go.
Taxi's around here are very cheap compared to the USA. But even $3 or $4 adds up over time. I needed something across town, not in walking distance, so my friend Sheryl offered to show me how to get there by using the bus system. I'm not sure what I was thinking by taking Abby (our 3 yr old.), but I did.
We took a walk down to the main road. Now with the buses they only go one direction. You can't flag them down, tell them where you want to go, and then expect them to do a u-turn for you. If you are going to the "right" you have to cross the street so that you are on the same side as the direction they are going. If you are going "left" then it's a little easier because you are already on the correct side of the road.
We made it to the main road and had to cross the street so we could go to the "right." Once we were on the curb there were many buses driving past with a man hanging out the window yelling which direction they were headed. If you want that bus you flag them over and they stop. The funny thing is they will squeeze as many people as possible in a vehicle, if it seats 10 people normally, they would fit at least 20 people, with the last person basically hanging on to the door for dear life.
We found a bus going the right way with 2 seats left, except the "seats" were actually the last two "standing seats". We went to jump on and thankfully a man traded with me so that I could sit with Abby on my lap.
We got to a cross section of bus lines and jumped off. We had to walk a little ways then flag down another bus to go to our final destination. The bus on this side of town stops in front of you and you have to run to jump on. I carried Abby so I wouldn't have to worry about her keeping up or stumbling. We got on the bus and it wasn't crowded at all--for about 5 seconds. Next thing we know we are squeezed in like sardines with perfect strangers smooshing you from all around. I thought Abby was going to have a heart attack.
On the way back when I "ran to meet the bus" the driver started going before I got on. Because of my forward momentum and holding Abby I didn't realize that I was falling backwards and not forwards into the bus until I heard shouts coming from the bus and about 10 hands grabbing me and pulling me on. The guy who leans out the window and shouts to everyone where we were going was even pushing me on from the backside. That was pretty crazy. Once I was safely seated on the bus I couldn't quit laughing. I didn't even realize that I was falling except for the look on everyone else's faces. It was great.
I have to say though that for now I shall stick with taxi's. At least until my culture shock wears off. That was enough of an adventure for me for a little while.
Today I took a taxi to the "Walmart" here. Some times taxi's like to take shortcuts, to me however I feel like they take twice the time as normal. A taxi here is basically a very small 5 seater car. (The other day we only had a little ways to go so my family and the Levine family took one taxi home. With us and the driver that was 11 people in this car! That was a lot of fun.)
This taxi driver took us down this alley that the curves were so tight he actually had to back up a couple of times to make the tight turn. With this small of a car you can imagine how small the road was. There were people all over this road so we had to go super slow and for 10 minutes he basically blew his horn the entire time to get people to move out of the way. But these taxi drivers take "shortcuts" like this all the time. It makes it difficult to learn the layout because it seems there are 100 ways to go to the same place.
I am starting to feel a little confident about going places though. Today was my 2nd time taking a taxi by myself somewhere. It is kind of freeing being able to be a little independent again.