Posted by: monsonmadness | January 6, 2013

Fun Friday field trip on the Aiga bus

On Friday I wanted to take the kids on one last field trip. I had the perfect idea, and since I can’t really walk anywhere, and since Michael took our only car to work, the timing was great.

The kids were really confused as to how we were going to go on a field trip without a car. No-one could guess what I had planned.

Ever since we have moved here, the kids have wanted to ride on a bus. We’ve never got round to it, so on Friday we made it happen.

In American Samoa, the buses are called Aiga (pronounced Ainga) buses, which means, family bus.

There are beautifully decorated bus stops all around the island, although buses can stop anywhere at all, even on the side on the road. To flag down a bus, you just flap your hand down when it’s approaching. To tell the driver you want to get off, you either bang on the wooden side of the bus, or pull a string on the roof (if it has one). Rides take forever because people stop the bus every few meters so that they don’t have to walk as far!

Nobody is sure how much it costs to ride a bus. I was told it was $1 per person per ride, no matter where you were going. Some people told me you don’t have to pay for young children, and most people I watched just threw a couple of quarters at the driver as they got off.

All of the buses play music, REALLY LOUDLY. So loud that you can’t have a conversation with the person sitting next to you. There is one that has such a loud bass that we can feel it when it drives past our house. No joke.

The windows are all down, there is no AC. There are no seat belts, and people are allowed to smoke on them. Oh yeah, and the buses are homemade! A family or village converts a truck bed and then adds wood all around. The one we rode in had light switches like in your house to turn on the lights, and all the electrical wires were exposed. Ours also had a canister of gas in the front, just in case!

The buses are almost always packed. It’s pretty dangerous. The Samoan adults will even sit on each others laps with half their bodies hanging out of the windows. Probably the best part of the buses is how they are decorated, both on the inside and the out. Some of them are really creative, some are religious, some advertise various things. The one we rode in was decorated like a leopard on the inside, the kids really liked that.

I stole a couple of pictures from the internet of this coral reef bus where the inside is decorated with feather boas and bright fabric, and a few others. The rest of the pictures are from our field trip. The kids were so excited when I told them what we were doing. We walked the 30 seconds to the main road and waited at a bus stop. Rode to La Fou which is a “shopping complex” not sure if I can call it that, but it has a small play area for the kids, and then we went into Carl’s Jr for a milkshake. Then we got back on another bus and rode home. It was fun.

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