“A la puente, todo angamos; ANGAMOS!!!”
These are the words marking our daily ritual: a commute from San Borja that involves walking 1/2 mile, being smashed like mashed potatoes into a mini-bus that cries for a mechanic with each jolting turn, then onto the Metropolitano (you may find a seat here), and finally into a moto-taxi (aka India’s auto-ricksaw) for our arrival 1 hour 20 minutes later at La Universidad Cayetano Heredia. Awesome.
The Angamos bus has to be our favorite segment of the journey, though. It begins with you avoiding cars – while in the crosswalk with a green “walk” sign – like darts, where you are the target sign. Once you’re positioned along a stretch of Angamos with deafening honking, you know you’ve arrived at the designated pick-up spot. Here, buses cut each other off, pass other cars in the left lane, and slam on the brakes all for you. That’s right, all for you. You see, they need your 1 nuevo sole ($.35) like a dog needs to mark a new tree smelled for the first time. But, don’t get caught up enjoying being desired too long, or you will be left behind – or worse, run over.
Once aboard you must chose your seat very selectively. Let’s say you’ve spotted a seat in the front, nestled between two ladies. “Perfect,” you think, “I can fit there and not have to stand ducked over in this 4-foot-high back of a van. Take this seat with caution. This is the transformation zone of the van: that bench-like hump in front of your feet can suddenly become a row full of knocking knees in a moment’s time. But, let’s suppose you get lucky and find a van with a row of single seats and the front one is open. “Now I’ve scored,” you chuckle in your mind. Wrong. This is the butt-to-the-face seat. Every passenger yelling “Baja, baja (down, down)” as their desired disembarkation approaches brushes against you as they attempt to get off the van before the driver successfully shifts into first gear.
Finally, you’ve found that elusive window seat, away from the commotion of passengers getting on and off and the “door-boy” yelling out the other side of the van “ANGAMOS!” Now, you can inhale deeply that thick, Peruvian pollution that tastes like dust and smells like a fusion of burning gasoline and cigarettes. Careful not to inhale this bliss too deeply, though. You still have work to do. It’s now time to ask for “El metropolitano” – you must ensure this van won’t turn down some random street, refusing to stop when you yell “Baja” in that smooth, Gringo tone like the previous ones have. Today, you must minimize this commute because the laboratory needs you. Today, you won’t be tricked by the “Td. Angamos” written on the side of this van. Today, you will conquer Angamos. “ANGAMOS!”