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Diablos Rojos – should they stay or should they go?

September 2, 2009

Red Devils — Diablos Rojos —  are simply buses with colourful folkloric art, loud oversized pollutant producing exhausts, that own the streets of Panama’s cities and towns as the public bus system. Where did they come from? Second hand from the USA, these old Bluebird’s began roaming the streets of Panama in the 1960s and earlier.

by Cate

by Cate

Tourists love for these buses are reminiscent of the affection held for Cuba’s old cars.  But tourists don’t have to endure this old mode of transport on a daily basis like ordinary Panamanians do.  These buses are not popular with the public because they were meant for carrying school kids not adults, and not for the tropics, and they’re considered a menace.

by Cate

by Cate

Diablos Rojos have caused problems on the streets of Panama City and debate over their worthiness.  It may cost only 25 cents to travel on these buses but in all honesty unless you can’t afford it, why would you bother? Hot, stuffy, hard seats, noisy and charging at full speed often racing another bus.

“People drive their cars because they don’t like these buses, these buses are bad and need maintenance” complained my taxi driver as we sat in traffic from the airport. He continued telling me that many women drive these buses ending on a over-stressed statement, “women don’t do maintenance!”

I begged to differ but I sensed that a discussion on gender  issues was not going to get me to the hotel any earlier, only add to my developing headache. I sat back and watched the buses roar by, while we crawled.

by Cate

by Cate

Panama’s economy is fast gaining momentum and similar to other developing nations, people want to show off their new status through their vehicles. I noticed that SUV’s are popular in Panama. Add these to the number of public buses and the taxis on the streets and it’s easy to see why the streets become congested.

by Cate

by Cate

I took a yellow Bluebird bus to the town of Boquete. This is the usual style bus running between the towns of David and Boquete. Thankfully it was only an hour’s trip. Inside the bus was like a glasshouse, no ventilation, the seats were like rock with leg room designed for kids. I had backache for the rest of the day. The price for this discomfort — $1.45.

Caffeinated Traveller

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9 Comments
  1. September 3, 2009 11:22 am

    People says’ ” no pain no gain.”
    It must be feeling like this.

  2. September 3, 2009 11:59 am

    Hey!If you plan to visit Argentina, check out what we got to offer!

    Discount Argentina (DAR) is a card created for tourists. It offers a big variety of gifts and several discounts in hotels, fashion stores, entertainment shows (Tango, folklore), Museums, football, regional souvenirs and the best restaurants.

  3. Bear permalink
    September 4, 2009 8:53 am

    But when you can go a long way for a bit of money I can see why they are so popular. I also think its great that they are done up so creatively.

  4. September 4, 2009 9:27 am

    I’ve ridden similar transportation in Mexico (complete with a Mercedes emblem on the front for a bit of irony, ha). A seat by a working window and a decent breeze are critical. Sitting in traffic can be a bit painful. ~But I always met the most interesting people on those buses! I liked that part a lot. The Panamanian versions are much more colorful; nice photos (especially the last one!).

  5. September 4, 2009 1:57 pm

    Rainfield – yes that would be the correct phrase in this situation.

    Bear -Not really popular with the locals mainly out of necessity because there is no other choice in buses. I wonder if you would use these 😛

    Heather – Meeting the locals is always good. I suspect your Spanish is better than mine, I struggle beyond the greeting. True the buses are photogenic if not anything else.

  6. September 6, 2009 6:55 pm

    If I could decide, they should go. Like Bear said, they are done up creatively but they seem to do more harm than good – especially to the environment.

    • September 7, 2009 8:03 pm

      I know! when I first saw them I though oh how cool, but once I got talking to some of the locals I sensed they felt annoyed about them. Great for tourists and cameras.

  7. September 10, 2009 10:40 pm

    I could understand the locals who have to endure the ride everyday. But it looks so cool. I guess maybe they can convert them into more of a tourist bus around town.

    • September 11, 2009 10:00 am

      That would make better use of the buses since it’s tourists who like the buses. Great idea Amy.

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