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Sistema de energía solar Puesto de Salud
Resguardo Indígena de Mosoco, Tierradentro, Cauca, 1992

Revista HOME POWER
Número 32  Diciembre  1992

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Nota del editor

The Spirit of the Chivas

A chiva is a Colombian mountain bus. The chivas carry everyone and everything around the high Andes. Each chiva is different. No two chivas are painted the same, driven by the same chivero, or follow the same route. It’s not these busses themselves that are so amazing but the spirit of the drivers and passengers.The chiva is an impossible collection of worn out, overloaded, ancient machinery. Things break regularly and everyone expects delays. A chiva with a flat tire parks in the middle of a one lane road cut through impossibly steep terrain. All passengers are outside holding the chiva up while the chivero changes the tire. All traffic is blocked. Everyone gets out of their vehicles and stands around talking. Someone starts coffee brewing. No one doubts that the chiva will be repaired. It’s just a question of time and no one is in any hurry. The chiva riders are equipped for the long haul. The have brought warm clothes suitable for racing around mountain roads in an open sided bus. They have brought dinner, lunch, and breakfast for tomorrow. They have brought chickens, pigs, plants, corn, beans, and other stuff all lashed to the chiva’s top. They are enjoying the view and visiting with their neighbors. The chivero, an independent businessman, repairs his bus. He is assisted by his associate who collects all the fares and keeps a sharp eye pealed for any trouble. While the passengers relax, the chivero and his associate are doing whatever is necessary to breathe life back into the chiva. Roadside engine rebuilds with a crescent wrench and hammer are a snap for these fellows. When the chiva is fixed everyone reboards and the ride begins again. Since the chiva’s schedule is plus or minus two days, no one minds running through villages at 2 AM with the horns blaring. Everyone awakes, and those taking the bus scramble to hop on as it races through town. On a chiva there is always room. I learned a lot from the chivas. An optimistic, can-do spirit can accomplish the plainly impossible on a regular basis. And have fun doing it.

Richard Perez


Above: There’s always room on a chiva. Photo by Karen Perez

 

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