Thursday, March 26, 2015

CONCHOS: Getting Around in the DR IS CRAZY!

In the Dominican Republic the fastest, easiest and CHEAPEST way to get around town is to take a Concho. Taking a Concho is an ADVETURE each time.  SIX to SEVEN  people  are crammed tightly into car. FOUR people can sit in the back and THREE in the front.

A Picture is worth  1,000 Words:
  It's NO Fun when you're the one  in the
middle with a Gear Shift poking you in
the butt. It's cheap, so I'll stop complaining!
On this particular day,  I was stuck in the front, between the driver and another passenger (UGH...lucky me). My left butt cheek kept knocking the gear in neutral each time I tried to adjust myself into a semi-comfortable position. Then the driver would slowly ease his hand under my butt to grab the gear-shift back into drive position. I guess he knew that if he had made a QUICK MOVE to grab the shift gear under my butt, I probably would have caused a wreck.  My Expression in the picture tells you EXACTLY how I and my butt felt the whole time!!  You can see my FULL VIDEO here.

Then on another particular day, I recorded a video which shows a MASSIVE HOLE in the floor board of the Concho.  It was SO FUNNY. I hate that I can't find the video to post. That day  I felt like a character from the Flintstones as I watched the street pass underneath my feet. GOD, I love this country!

What is a Concho:
A concho is a regular size\small car (i.e Honda Civic/Toyota Corolla) that drives around town picking people up and dropping them off  24/7..  Each driver has a specific route that he/she drives...similar to a city bus route or a subway system.  One route may go from East to West and the other route goes from North-to-South.  Additionally, other conchos will drive to/from certain neighborhoods.

Each driver has a specific day that he/she can chauffer patrons. If a driver is caught driving someone around on a day that IS NOT designated for them, then they would have to sacrifice giving up one of their "other" working days.  For Example, there are 2 groups of Concho drivers here in Santiago: A BLUE Team and a YELLOW Team. They both drive the same routes each day, but one team can ONLY drive on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays. The other team Can ONLY drive on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. I think both can drive on Sunday.

 Another difference is that conchos don’t follow a certain speed limit, nor do they use lanes. They drive all over the street. Pedestrians DO NOT have the right-of-way.  Your behind better LOOK 2ce before stepping on the street!!

How much does it cost:
It only cost 20 Pesos. This is only 44 Cents...SO FREAKING CHEAP...WOW!

Can I request a specific destination upon entering?
NO. They don't drive you to a SPECIFIC destination like a taxi does.  Instead, they run similar to a bus line route...since there's no bus line system here.  They constantly drive around a designated route picking people up and dropping them off.

How do you know Which Concho to take?
In the front window of each car (on the passenger side) is an alphabet letter (sometimes 2 letters).  The letter indicates which route that driver goes.  When you see a concho with  the letter(s) of the route you want to take, flag him down.  Actually, you really won't have to flag him down, because Conchos are constantly honking their horns to get people's attention in order to ensure that you see the route they're heading on.  This is ONE of the many reasons WHY YOU HEAR SO MANY HORNS HONKING HERE!! 

NOTE: You should ask a local person which concho to take until you get familiar with their routes.

What if a concho's route is NOT on the same route as my destination?
Just like a bus system, you can ride a concho to a specific point on his route, then get out and take another one.  OR take a taxi...which are also extremely inexpensive for one-to-two trips here and there.  Using a taxi everyday is can be very expensive ($6-8\day round trip).But paying $6-$8 once or twice a month isn't bad...

Lessons Learned and Tips that I've been given:
  • You CAN pay for 2-3 seats if you DO NOT want to have anyone sitting next to you. This is convenient when your packing several bags and need more room or if you just don't want anyone sitting beside you.
  • I no longer get into the concho when the front MIDDLE position is the only one left.
  • I no longer get into the concho if they already have 3 people (large) in the back.
  • I no longer take conchos very late in the day because it always seems hard to find one to bring me back. They tend to run less in the evenings...
  • Update from Puerto Plata (4/7/2015): Conchos in Puerto Plato are 10 pesos more than Santiago. Also, in Puerto Plato the drivers will ask you if you want this to be a PRIVADO. Which means If you're the 1st person to get the car., you have the option to make this a private car (which is more, but worth it if you're running many errands w\several bags.)

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