|Calibradora Blanca gives information to a bus driver.|
It's unpleasant, dangerous work, dodging among vehicles, swallowing diesel fumes and being subjected to blaring horns. But the calibradores, many of them homeless people, have few skills or other work options. If they did, after all, they wouldn't likely be doing this in the first place.
But the calibradores may have only a few days work left, if Bogotá follows thru with its plan to integrate the traditional private buses into the publicly-run SITP bus system. Since the SITP buses run on coordinated, centrally-controlled routes, the calibradores reason for being will disappear.
|Blanca on Carrera 10, her workplace.|
"I had to fight for this space," she said, against other calibradores, mostly homeless men, who also work the avenue.
Her profession "is an example of maldicia indigena," she said, using a term for native Colombian ingenuity.
She showed me the 200 peso coin which her last bus driver client gave her, and a sheet of paper where she noted the times when buses passed by. On a typical day she can earn about 20,000 pesos - less than U.S. $10.00, she said.
"I'm poor because I'm honest."
|Blanca's notes of what times which |
bus lines passed by at what times.
Blanca blames the change on 'capitalism,' and even manages to blame the United States. But the private buses are an example of unbridled, nearly unregulated capitalism. The SITP system is managed by City Hall.
And will the switch to SITP mean anything more than a change in colors? The city promoted the SITP system as a solution to, among other things, traffic congestion and pollution. But many of the SITP buses run nearly empty; and many SITP buses are themselves highly polluting.
Blanca, for her part, feels certain that the the change won't really happen. Perhaps that's wishful thinking.
|A bus crier, another endangered proffesion.|
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours