I’ve written before about my love-hate relationship with public transportation in Santiago. And again about my hate relationship with Transantiago. Unfortunately, this is another hate post.
Before recently, I could pretty much avoid the metros and micros at rush hour, and if I did have to take them I took them home, so I wasn’t worried about getting there on time, just mildly irritated when it would take me 45 minutes to get home instead of the 20 minutes it took me to get to work. Unfair, but doable.
Now my class schedule means that on Tuesdays and Thursdays I have to get off Line 4 at Baquedano, make the combination to Line 1 and ride Line 1 all the way to Los Heroes. At 7:00pm. Peak rush hour. And I actually have somewhere to be at a certain time. Not fun.
It usually takes at least two trains going by to get on at Baquedano, and then I end up super squished, trying to clutch my wallet in my pocket so that no oportunistic delinquints with sticky fingers steal what little money I have on me (actually, I worry more about my carnet and the hours of tramites it takes to get one after it’s stolen). Every time I get on, I think “Thisis the most squashed I’ve ever been on the metro,” but somehow it just keeps getting worse!
Yesterday I ended up squashed between two friends, one very tall with super long dreadlocks. I’m not the biggest fan of dreadlocks because I think they’re dirty, and it grossed me out big time every time his locks whipped me in the face. Ew. But, these gents were nice enough and when I overheard that they were getting off at Los Heroes as well, I asked them to help me off.
For anyone who hasn’t traveled in the Santiago metro at rush hour, you’re probably thinking, why on earth would you have trouble getting off? Well, Santiaguinos are stubborn and they don’t like giving up their spot by the door of the train, even to let people off. And at Los Heroes there is always a sea of people at least four deep waiting on the platform to get on the train. So us poor folks who want to get off first have to shove through at least one row of door-hoggers (sometimes more if you’re a weakling like me and get pushed to the back of the car) and then through a sea of people four deep on the platform. I also have to accomplish this without my backpack full of class materials getting left behind and hopefully with my wallet and cell phone securely in my pants pocket.
It’s stressful. So yesterday I was very thankful to the dreadlocked young man and his goofy friend for pushing me off the train. I’m not sure if it helped, but they also insisted on yelling to everyone, “Move it! There’s a lady that wants to get off!” with a few colorful Chilean swears thrown in. Charming.
I really really feel for people who have to take the metro during the morning and afternoon rush hours. Especially at Metro Station Los Heroes. I’m convinced if there is a bit of Hell in Santiago, it’s there, tucked under the intersection of two streets named for Chilean Independence heroes. However, there’s always a bit of good, like my new friend with dreadlocks, squashed between the thousands of people just trying to get where they’re going to.