My Journey Through Our Public Transport System

My Journey Through Our Public Transport System

Fernando Calle

A unique perspective of Lima life from a Peruvian-born, American citizen who returned to his country after 25 years.

This is intended to be a view of our Peruvian Society from the eyes of someone who lived almost half of his life in Peru and the other in the States; California and Florida to be exact. Things do change as years go by, they evolve, some for the better, some have stayed the same and some may never change.

Coming to Peru as a tourist and staying for a week is way different than actually trying to re-insert yourself into the Peruvian system, the society and lifestyle on a full-time basis. My trips as a tourist were usually short, visiting family and friends, doing business, going to the hottest spots and it was like I wasn´t aware of what went on around me. Living abroad for so long gives you a different perspective and view on so many things, so after my coming back to the Country with the intention of staying, I started noticing many little things I never noticed before as a tourist. Some seemed peculiar, some annoying, some off the wall, strange, crazy, hilarious, colorful, outrageous, unlawful and others way dangerous. Peruvian idiosyncrasy is very strong and for the most part very rigid; the smart Aleck society, the wise guy’s society where everyone seems to think that they are sleeker than the rest.

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

I´m not the type of guy who became spoiled because of living in the States. Actually, I´m pretty adventurous, humble and very street smart, so I decided to venture myself out in the public transportation system. In my opinion, after being away for over twenty-five years, I found the commuting system had evolved, had progressed but still operating with many faults. I was actually surprised at how my people had gotten used to being a little organized as far as the Metropolitan buses system is concerned. I thought to myself, WOW .. it is possible to change Peruvian’s bad habits.

One of the many things that caught my attention was that everyone had somehow gotten used to the idea of designated bus stops. Unlike other public transportation systems, I have been to in other major cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Mexico City, the Lima Metropolitan did not have a set time or schedule, it was kind of random. I named this the Metropolitan culture, to describe a series of events I experienced while using this system. One of them that caught my attention was the craziness at peak time hours of catching a seat, it was a frantic race to occupy an empty spot, as I watched people pushing each other out of the way to sit themselves down and travel comfortably not caring about anyone else besides themselves for this matter. The same thing occurred with the handicapped reserved seats. I witnessed some major brawls and nasty arguments just because of people being inconsiderate with others.

I think to myself, our Peruvian society is extremely selfish, one that thinks about its well-being and with a complete disregard for the rest. Another curious trait that caught my eye was that I noticed in Lima just about everyone has a backpack, ladies, guys, office people, workers, you name it, it is I guess the trendy thing and most comfortable way to carry your things, but in my days you would only see school kids with backpacks or tourists on their way to Cuzco with a huge backpack on their backs. As I go through the designated stops watching people being in a normal hurry of a big city, I look around and I see a lot of people falling asleep or completely sleep. Some even nodding out standing up. I never saw anything like this before. One can’t help but wonder whether people are suffering from sleep deprivation in my country; and by the way, I witnessed this at all times of the day, people sleeping like as if they were in their own beds.

Lima, the city of Kings. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Standing in a packed long bus in the middle of a hot summer day with no air conditioning, makes the mind start to wonder, and as I watched the traffic outside and the drivers in a hurry as if in an emergency, thinking about the sleek Peruvian society where drivers cut each other off and honk their horns as if that will make any difference in the traffic flow, I hear an ambulance siren getting louder and louder and I´m shocked about the fact that the cars do not move out of the way. Drivers out there act as if they don´t hear it, I think to myself, who might be the poor soul whose life may be depending on getting to a Hospital as soon as possible? Then I see a compact car that should seat five people, packed with at least eight, and in the front seat I see a mother holding a small child on her lap without the proper restraint, the kid is sticking her hands and head out the window. I´m speechless at this point. One can´t help to compare and think what would happen if I was to do something like that in the States? I would definitely go to jail and get charged with child endangerment or child abuse. But this is my big city of Lima. The city of Kings.

Fernando Calle is a Peruvian-born, American citizen who has lived in the USA for over 25 years. He is a Cardiovascular Technologist and Sleep Disorder Specialist, having worked for Baptist Health Systems (Florida, USA) where he held the position as Chief Technologist of the Respiratory Disorders Department. After having worked for his own companies (Sleep Services of South Florida and Total Health Diagnostics, also in South Florida), he currently resides in Lima, Peru on a new quest as an English Teacher. He can be contacted at

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1 Comment

  1. guillermo
    May 04, 14:42 Reply
    Thanks for visit Lima , and let me says something about your experience. Definitely is a intense experience, because the people maybe don't have de true culture for anything, but in the same time shouldn't make comparative, because you live in another reality . Another wise. Peru is an amazing place for vacation. The next time don't take the transportation and don't said that the culture is bad in my country , because you don't know nothing about that . How long time you was in Lima 1 week ??? It's not a long time for made conclusions about of the amazing place like peru

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