In Lima the dirty smell provoked my nose, and the car exhaust got stuck in my throat. It was an unpleasant reminder of the 8,5 million that lived in the city. But the most common public transportation that probably was the reason for the pollution, called Micros, those are fascinating.
In the second I saw them, I knew what my transportation would be. The friend that I traveled with was not so convinced. He swore to the taxi. It turned out to be a discussion, because taxies are the one thing that makes me feel unsafe. I know that most tourist guides and lonely plant are stating that taxies are the safest thing. But I have a hard time believing in that. If you are looking to earn quick cash and to rob a tourist in cold blood, would you not use a taxi? And make sure to stop before an ignorant tourist?
I firmly believe that it is safer to travel as the locals do (if you put your jewelry away). How much bad luck should you have, that the desperado is on that exact same buss that you chose? Unless they actually followed you to begin with and then you are fucked either way.
The Micros is usually small minibus that is driving up and down the main roads. They look like they are beamed in to the future from the seventies and are originally meant to be transporting hippies to Woodstock. They are privately owned, and are going back and forth from the city centers and other frequently traveled roads.
You will never be confused of where they are going if you have a map available. The drivers are hanging out of the slide door to the side of the vehicle and screaming that they have seats available and where they are going. If that is not enough they usually hold the signs in their hand, and the destination is also labeled on their windscreens.
One tip though. The drivers compete for passengers, so regardless of the bus is full they will say that there is room. Hop on quick, and do not expect them to wait for you. If you linger, they will continue to drive, even if you have one foot in the door.