One Family's Return Trip: Bus Etiquette #2


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:

  1. Keep a 10,000 peso bill and some coins in an easily accessible pocket. This way you do not have to get out your wallet or open a bag to give them money. This protects you from thieves.
  2. If you choose to buy a food item -- candy or homemade items-- do not eat it. There have been occasions when these items have been purposely contaminated or drugged, so it is better just not to go there.
  3. Pay close attention to your things and pockets while the vendedor is on the bus, don't get so distracted that you allow someone to steal your things.

Here is a youtube video of a Vendedora which can help you get an idea of what to expect.


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