It's quite the adventure whenever you need to travel here in the city. Many of the buses are always packed full of people. Finding opening seats can be a chore in itself. Some of the buses do not have any interior lighting, so when most of the windows are heavily tinted to keep out the sun, it creates a very dark, cave-like feeling that can be a bit unsettling. Despite the overcrowdedness, unbearable heat, and death-defying driving, the buses are a very efficient and manageable way to maneuver about Barranquilla...most of the time.
So figuring out how the bus system actually works is a whole other beast in it's own right. The thing about these buses is that they don't really have traditional bus numbers like back in the states. Instead, they are identified by their color, company name, or main street that they drive on/end up at. For example, Monday - Wednesday and Friday, when I go to training out at the Colombo Americano, I take the Urba Playa bus. All that I have to do is stand on the sidewalk/street, look for this bus, wave it down, and I'm set. Normally, this bus is packed full of university students on their way to class in the morning, so finding a seat is pretty much impossible for the first 30 minutes of my journey.
Now, on Thursdays we have our meetings at the Peace Corps office, I walk down to Calle 52 and catch the gold La Carolina bus that goes towards the center part of Barranquilla. This bus also tends to be pretty crowded, so standing for long periods of time and holding on for dear life have become part of the normal routine around here. Normally by the time that my landmark for departure (a car dealership) comes up, the bus has mainly emptied out.
Outside of these two buses, I haven't quite figured out how else to get around the city. There are so many other buses available and getting a sense for where they all go to is difficult and confusing all at the same time. I'm planning on taking a Saturday or Sunday here in the near future and purposely get lost in the city to see what I can figure out.
In all honesty, I don't have to try and imagine what it would be like if you joined Frogger with Mario Kart - I'm living it everyday...