Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

Journey to La Casa de Felix

Time December 22nd, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Visiting the Capachica Peninsula in Lake Titicaca in southern Peru was easily one of the highlights of the last 5 months.  Lake Titicaca is the largest lake in South America and, at 12,507 feet, is considered to be the highest navegable lake in the world.  I went there at the end of a bus trip that took me from Lima to Paracas to Huacachina to Ica to Nazca to Arequipa to Juliaca to the Capachica Peninsula to Puno then back to Lima, where I am now for my last few days, writing this.  But I think one of my favorite things about my trip to the Capachica Peninsula was the adventure that was getting there.  I’ll begin my story with Juliaca, a large town near Lake Titicaca that is theoretically also quite close to where we were staying (Felix’s house) on the peninsula.  I arrived there with Koby and Koby’s brother Saul at around 1 or 2 pm after a 6 hour bus ride from Arequipa on a bus full of local rural people.  This guy, who apparently thought he was some sort of Peruvian Billy Mays:

peruvian billy mays

Read More »


A Detailed Guide on All Things Micro

Time August 29th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | 1 Comment by

Today I’ll be talking about:

I. How to catch a bus

II. How not to catch a bus


IV. Musica

V. Links to Previous Posts


The buses were the thing I was most afraid of before arriving in Mendoza. Public transportation just stresses me out, always has. But the buses here are very manageable once you work it out. It’s a little chaotic–taking the bus is an art, not a science–but it’s easy enough, and it’s a fast and cheap way to get around.


I. How to catch a bus


You’ll hear all of this information at orientation, but I’ll tell you about it too.


First, you’re going to need to get a RedBus* card, unless you want to pay exact change for each bus ride. (And considering that change does not seem to exist in this country, you’re gonna want to get the card.) The card costs about $A 3 at almost any kiosco. There will be signs on the kiosco advertising RedBus. You can recharge that card as many times as you want—they also do that at kioscos. To use it, you just wave it in front of the sensor inside the bus. Easy.


The second thing, which is a bit more complicated, is to figure out which bus you need. There are two important numbers, the group number (1-9 are most common) and the bus number. The buses are also color coded: all group 3 buses are yellow, 5’s are green, etc. You can look up the bus routes (to see which numbers go where you need to go) online, but you can also ask your host family or even IFSA. I got really lucky and the last girl who stayed with my host mom left me a list of all the buses I need. Whoever stays with Susy next will also inherit that sucker! It’s been a life saver. But I’m also really excited that, after being here a month, I don’t really need it anymore.


Now you wait for a while. The buses are generally pretty timely (every half hour)…but it takes a little luck. The buses can arrive late, and once or twice I’ve even been on a bus that has broken down. Time to wait again. So, it never hurts to have a book on hand.


When you see a bus, it’s time to be aggressive, B-E aggressive! If there’s any chance it could be your bus–because the group number is large but the bus number is tiny–go fast and stick your arm out like you mean it. As in, get in the road (but don’t get run over!) GO!


Hop on and hang on. Try to give yourself two free hands if you can to steady yourself, because it can be a bumpy ride. Keep your purse close to you while you’re on the bus, preferably in front of you. Everyone’s heard the horror stories about bus pick pocketing.


When you get close to your stop (or streets you recognize) get moving to the back where the button to stop is located. Again, be fast, be aggressive. Be aware of acequias and traffic as you’re getting off.


Bus accomplished.


II. How not to catch a bus


The collective wisdom from my friends and me:


Two things you need to know:


1) the routes are not circles but lines. If you miss your stop, the bus will not loop back around to it eventually. It’s going to the bus depot.


2) WHERE you catch the bus matters, because buses go in more than one direction. Great example: when trying to get to or from Cuyo, OJO, because I know of at least three #3-33 buses, and they all go to very different places.


If you do get on the wrong bus, try not to panic. Some way or other, it’ll work out. If you haven’t gone very far/you see non-sketchy streets you recognize, get off and get another bus. If you’re in a scary looking part of town and have no idea where you are, DO NOT GET OFF THE BUS. Just let the bus take you to the depot. Explain your situation to the driver and they’ll help you out, especially if you look foreign and terrified.


Bonus tip: Try to keep an eye on your phone minutes so that, in the event of bus mishaps, you can let your host family know you’re not dead, just delayed.


When in doubt, ask the driver if the bus goes to/passes/goes near the street you’re trying to get to BEFORE YOU GET ON. I have seen other Argentines do it too, FYI. Everyone gets confused by the buses.


Most importantly, enjoy the journey. The micro system is a little confusing, but once you get the hang of it, it’s totally manageable. If you get lost, laugh it off. It happens to just about everyone eventually. Call it part of the adventure.





*Red – network

Tarjeta – card

Parrada – bus stop

Micro = omnibus (omni for short) = colectivo

Subir – Get on

Bajar – get off

Tropezar – to trip



IV. Musica

Going with the theme of confusion and getting lost, pleas enjoy this song, courtesy of the one and only Jose.


Senal que te he perdido – Adres Calamaro


V. Links to Previous Posts


1. Antes de que me voy (Before I Leave)

2.  Host Families and Fun with Public Transportation

3. “Are You the Girl with the Blog?”

4. Playing Tourists in Buenos Aires

5. Looking Good, Mendoza!