Brian Lackey


Semi-Organized Chaos: Lima, Peru

Yesterday I almost got hit by a bus.

A micro in Lima

A micro in Lima

I was walking back to my new home around 10 at night, crossing at a small street after purchasing a botella de agua con gas, and a micro (privately owned small bus) came out of nowhere and passed within about a foot of me before speeding on to its next stop.

Most cities this large have a decent public transportation system, perhaps a subway of sorts, or at least an organized system of public buses. Lima is a free-market-purist’s dream come true. The public transportation system largely consists of unregulated and unofficial taxis and private microbuses that are decades old, resulting in pretty bad air pollution and traffic. Regulation is largely absent and the system is largely chaotic, though indeed cheap. Since each taxi and microbus is essentially a private business, it’s in the driver’s best interest to drive extremely quickly down the street, trying to pick up as many people as possible. Rules, if any, go unenforced from what I can tell, resulting in pretty crazy traffic. For instance, taxis frequently turn left from a right turn only lane, across 2 lanes of traffic that are clearly going straight.

However, it appears that the government is working to remedy the situation as of recent. A dedicated bus route on one of the major roads has been in place for a few years now, called the Metropolitano, which I’ll be taking to and from work at Cayetano University. This appears to be very well organized, with nice buses run by natural gas instead of diesel. This is hopeful news for Lima, the city with the worst air pollution in South America.

But for now, it’s mostly chaotic, though does seem to work fairly well for the locals who are used to it. I’ve yet to brave any form of motorized transportation (except a taxi from the airport), and have probably walked a good 10-15 miles in the past 2 days as a result.

Beautiful, if polluted, view from Miraflores

Anyway, I’m enjoying my time in Lima so far. It’s a sort of sensory overload, which is kind of fun, if exhausting. Work starts tomorrow, and I’m pretty excited to meet everyone I’ll be working with at Cayetano University and learn more about what I’ll be doing for the next 2 months.

PeruBrian Lackey