Bingo on the Bus 5


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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.


About Michael Hodson

I’m an attorney that took off on my birthday in December of 2008 to circumnavigate the globe without ever getting on an airplane. After 16 months, 6 continents and 44 countries, I made it all the way back home. Right now, I am back on the road writing about it all.

5 thoughts on “Bingo on the Bus

  • Jodi (Legal Nomads)

    That’s hilarious, mainly because I won free round trip tickets from Lima to anywhere in Peru (On Cruz del Sur) by winning at Bingo. Of course, bingo being the ENTIRE card and not just a row meant that I was even more surprised that I won (and that the whole bus yelled at me when I initially called ‘BINGO!’ but had a mere row of numbers punched, not the whole damn thing).Enjoy RSA!

  • SoloTraveler

    Ahhhhh — see, there was a part of it I didn’t understand either. The whole card. I REALLY would have been the idiot when I yelled “bingo!” Glad I didn’t play.

  • david

    Hah! I didn’t play, but my partner did, and of course he didn’t know about the “entire card” rule either until the attendant laughed at the “silly American” and sent him back to his seat.

  • Andrea

    Haha…our Spanish was good enough but we only had the opportunity to play once – we were in a bad moos because it was an overnight bus and we wanted our dinner so we could sleep. Should have taken it more seriously considering the prizes.

  • Jenna

    Oh snap! I’ve done about four bus trips in Colombia and more in Argentina but have yet to run across bingo. To me it sounds like a great way to pass the time!

    I think a steward/ess would just be called an atendiente, for the sake of using a broad, politically correct and gender-neutral term. Spanish also has lots of words for service workers which have fallen by the wayside and may be considered offensive.

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