Typical Surinamese Bus
Inside of that bus notice cramped seating

To date, the most comical and culturally annoying quality of Suriname is its transportation system. For starters, it's not public. Each Paramaribo bus driver owns their own bus, and decorates it according to their style. We've seen it all – black lighting to tickle passenger fancy when they are riding home at night, faux cow print upholstery, and outrageous paintings inside and out.

Topping it all off, we?re pretty sure all of Parbo's buses were bought in one big business deal with the Chinese. They all have Chinese lettering and the doors have scatterings of Engrish. Taking the bus everyday is an adventure. You see, buses operate on their own timetables. Waiting for the bus every morning is a guessing game on whether or not you'll get to work on time.

Parbo's buses wedge an amazing amount of people into one vehicle. For some reason, no buses have handrails on the roof. Nope, everyone's gotta have a seat. Getting in and out of the bus is an acrobatic obstacle course. There are three fixed columns of seating and one aisle. To top it all off, a row of seats attached to one of the columns, folds into the aisle, effectively blocking the entrance and exit of passengers.

Here's a typical morning: People pile onto the bus onto every double and single seat firmly attached to the bus. Once those are full, people proceed to pull down one of the foldable side chairs and sit in the middle aisle. Then, passengers start ringing for their stops. Usually it's someone in the very back row of the bus who needs to get off first. So everyone in the middle aisle, gets up and squishes themselves into the other rows of people already there, or jumps off the bus altogether, so the (usually wide) man or woman at the back of the bus, with all their bags and personal affects, can get off the bus and pay the driver. This takes at least a couple of minutes, including the time it takes for the remaining passengers to rearrange themselves back into the seats, and let a whole bunch of other people pile onto the bus.

The bus starts off again. A few meters later, the bell rings and the bus has to stop again. For reasons unbeknownst to us, the second person to ring the bell could not possibly have gotten off the bus at the same time as passenger number one and walked a few more steps (thereby saving the whole aforementioned middle-aisle process from happening twice in two minutes). Repeat this process at least10 times. By the end of the bus ride, if you're unfortunate enough to sit in the middle row, you've gotten your daily exercise by getting up and down anywhere from 5-15 times to let all the people on the back of the bus out.

Now that?s just the middle of the route. If you're unfortunate enough to have to catch your bus at the very start of the route, you'll wait approximately 15-20 minutes for the bus to fill before it takes off. Now if you've gotta catch the bus someone at the beginning of the route, it's impossible to get a seat because they filled up downtown.

-amie-

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