Here in Santiago we use a little blue card called la tarjeta BIP! to access both the micros (buses) and the metro. If you want to just ride the metro, you can buy a ticket, but the only way to get on the bus (honestly and legally) is to have a BIP! card. For all of you reading from English-speaking parts, it’s pronounced “beep” for the sound it makes when you swipe it against the card reader.
My BIP! card is kind of my lifeline. I live pretty far from a metro, so I rely on micros a lot. The most common place to put more money on your BIP! card is also the metro, which requires a bit of planning on my part to make sure I have enough money on my card not only to get home, but also to get on the micro the next morning. There is a little store about two blocks from my house where you can recharge your BIP! in an emergency, but I try to always have enough money on my card.
On Thursday night I went out with a group of students because it was our last class and me cayeron bien (I like them). So we had a jolly old time in Plaza Ñuñoa and then I took a taxi back with on of my students who lives near me. The next morning I checked my e-mail and I had a message from student saying that I had left my BIP! card in the taxi. Shucks, I thought, but then I remembered that my mom and sister had left me the BIP! card they bought when they were here.
However, I knew it didn’t have any money on it. Or maybe it had 200 pesos, but not enough for a ride on the micro. I rummaged around in my desk drawer and found the BIP! I was planning on going to the little store and recharging before getting on the micro, but one thing lead to another and I was running late for class. So I decided just to beg the chofer to let me on the bus. I planned to bring out my whole gringa “no entender” routine if necessary.
So I got on the bus, went to swipe my card and see the flashing red light and the angry “beep beep beep!” but instead I got a green light, a healthy “beeeeep!” and the machine read “Saldo: $2600” which means that somehow my extra BIP! card recharged itself while sitting in my desk drawer.
Maybe there’s a logical explanation (my student’s boyfriend suggested that if you put BIP cards next to electronics they recharge themselves…there are various electronics in my desk drawer), or maybe I’m really forgetful (I doubt it…I have a great memory) and actually recharged that BIP card one day.
However, I prefer to believe that this was a BIP! card miracle.