So when going to a new city, you don’t go to just sit around in the hotel, right!?! Right! Well here is what I think is the most reliable form of transportation in Santiago,DR! It is fast, slightly uncomfortable but reliable, cheap and a worthwhile experience that everyone should have.
In Santiago, a concho is a combination of a bus and a taxi all in, one except there are many differences from both a taxi and a bus. A concho is the size of a 1995 Toyota Camry. In the U.S., legally 5 people are allowed to ride in a vehicle that size including the driver. However, here in the DR it is 7, including the driver! Another difference is that conchos don’t follow a certain speed limit, nor do they use lanes. Yikes!
Unlike buses which drop you off at a specific location, conchos let you off wherever you need and they run consistently. All you need in order to navigate is a few key phrases such as “Donde pueda?” ( Where you are able to go?), “En la esquina” (On the corner), “Después que cruce” (After you cross). A similarity to buses is that you pay for the concho once you get in (20 RD pesos, or about $0.50USD). Another similarity is that conchos have set routes that they take, so be very careful when it comes to choosing which concho to take. Trust me! It is a very easy mistake to make, yet the conchos are my favorite form of public transportation of all!
In the past week, I have been pressed against several windows, people and doors, but I have survived! I have crossed streets with busy conchos, cars and motorbikes during rush hour traffic and survived. I have gotten into the wrong concho and managed to get back home and I have enjoyed every moment of each experience!