In Santa Marta there are more motorbikes than cars. As seems to be the case in many tropical areas of developing countries, the motorbike is the most prevalent mode of transportation.
Today mi novio and I join the ranks of transport owners after buying a second-hand Suzuki motorbike, or as I’m accustomed to calling it, a scooter.
Coming from a country where the majority of people have a car to a place where the most common forms of transport are buses, taxis and mototaxis (motorbike taxis) has been an interesting change. Not everyone here has their own transport and it is still a dream for many people to have a motorbike and even more so, a car. I’ve come to realise how important transport, and lack of transport, is to lifestyle and culture. For many families even a local bus fare stretches the budget very tight.
I can’t count the number of times I took for granted popping to the supermarket or shops only to come home with a heavy load of groceries or a armfuls of shopping bags. That was when I had a car to haul my goods. Going to the supermarket here for a ‘big shop’ to stock up on bulky and big essentials such as washing powder, sugar and rice means having to pay a taxi fare to get home as it’s too far to walk carrying plastic shopping bags. The taxi fare is dirt cheap by Western standards, but constitutes a fifth of the daily minimum wage. No wonder the vast majority of families sh0p daily at their local corner store, buying only the quantities necessary for the day.
Having a motorbike now means we have freedom. We can go to the beach without having to catch two buses. We can look for an apartment. We can visit family and friends (when I make some!) and we can go to the supermarket without having to take a taxi.
Mi novio has such a big smile on his face today. He’s so excited to have a motorbike and our own mode of transport. I’ll still use the bus regularly to get to the city centre because it is
convenient, but I’m looking forward to discovering more of Santa Marta from the back of the motorbike.