One of the small, unique aspects of riding the buses in South America is bingo on the bus. It didn’t happen on every bus, but I ran into it about a half dozen times.
The bus steward or stewardess (not sure what you are supposed to call them – I do know that flight attendants haven’t been stewardesses for quite a while – I had three dates with one back in the early 90s in D.C. and on the third date asked what it was like being a stewardess – I didn’t get a fourth date) would come down the aisle early on the trip and hand out a bingo card to everyone. Then he or she would go somewhere and call out the letters and numbers. Fifteen minutes later one of the passengers declared victory and their was polite clapping on the bus. Then the incredibly loud movie would usually start up on the television screens in the bus.
I never did play. I always figured that my Spanish wasn’t good enough and that when I thought “B36” was called out, it might have been “B16” and so on. I really didn’t want to be the gringo that called out “Bingo!” and when my card was quickly checked, it turned out that I had marked half of the slots incorrectly. Plus, I didn’t see the point – bingo has never been a game that has held much intellectual interest for me.
Late in the South American portion of my journey, I was mentioning bingo to some other travelers. They did speak excellent Spanish and told me that most times the winner got a free full-fare ticket to anywhere that bus company went to. Just yet another reason I should have worked on my Spanish before I came down here.