Helping families with Colombian children stay connected with the Colombian culture. The blog will be updated Tuesday-Thursday. You may contact me at the following e-mail: colombiansadoptcolombians @ hotmail.com (please remove spaces around the @ symbol).
BUS ETIQUETTE #2 -- VENDEDORES (Salespeople)
Riding in a Colombian bus is a cultural experience in an of itself. I think that you shouldn't leave Colombia without riding a bus somewhere at rush hour or lunch time. One of my favorite things is the VENDEDOR (salesperson). This person gets on the bus with a backpack full of something he wants to sell -- colored pencils, candy, books, magazines, miracle drugs, soaps, lotions, etc. He will hand out a number of the items to people sitting on the bus. If one is offered to you, YOU TAKE IT! Even if you do not plan to buy it! You hold it in your hands while he gives his speech about the product.
Some vendedores are hilarious. Others try to appeal to your humanitarian instinct. One time, a lady got on to say, "I have lost my house and my child is in the hospital, my husband died a few months ago and I am dying of cancer, etc" I'm not always sure how much of what they is true.
Anyway, they speak really fast so that they can get off at the next stop and get on another bus.
Once they are finished, they go to each person and ask if they want to buy the product. If you want to buy the product, you hand over the fee. If you do not want to buy it, you simply hand it back.
Here are some precautionary measures to take:
Here is a youtube video of a Vendedora which can help you get an idea of what to expect.
BUS ETIQUETTE #1 -- EMPTY SEATS
Buses in Colombia can often be crowded. Even when the bus is totally crowded, the driver will stop to let more people on. The philosophy is "There is always room for one more.**" There will be a lot of jostling and pushing. Finding an empty seat can be hard and they are often coveted. On my first trip to Bogotá in 1995 (has it really been that long), I remember getting on the bus and seeing one empty seat. There was a woman standing next to the seat holding the rail, so this gringa thought, "HMMM, guess she doesn't want that seat!" I quickly plopped myself down -- much to the horror of my husband, the woman and several onlookers. I recognized right away that I was being an ugly American, but I had no clue as to why sitting in an empty seat could be so horrifying. In my mind, if the lady -- who was already on the bus -- had wanted the seat she would have sat down. WRONG!!! Here is where the etiquette comes in.
Colombians will not sit down on a "silla caliente" (hot seat) in the bus. The definition of a "hot seat" is one where someone has just left. So typically, once someone leaves the seat, a person near the empty seat will stand next to the seat for several minutes while the seat cools down. Once some time has passed, that person will take the seat.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOU??
When you get on a bus and see an empty seat, look around you and if someone is standing nearby ask, "¿Se va a sentar?" (say vah ah cenTAUR?) If they say "Sí.", be prepared to stand. If they say "No.", stand next to the seat for about 20 seconds and then sit down.
** This philosophy does not apply to buses labeled "EJECUTIVO" (executive). The EJECUTIVO buses do not typically allow people to stand. This means that if it is full, the executive bus will keep driving past where you are waiting. They are also more expensive to ride.
Here is a government video about the Reserve in Spanish:
Here is a tourist video in English:
Learn more about the Colombian Agency assigned to oversee the Biosphere Reserve here:
You can read a report evaluating the Reserve's first five years here:
It would appear that some of the decreases in categories may be attributed to aging out of a lower age category and graduating to the next category. The statistics do not show how many kids from the Special Needs categories actually found adoptive homes.