Dispatches From South America – The Importance of Down

I would have thought that, with all the new and exciting low-emissions diesel technology making it’s way into cars and trucks in Europe, we’d see some of that here in Ecuador. After all, most of the buses that trundle up and down the length of Quito are fairly new model Mercedes and Volkswagons. But no, even the newest buses put out choking clouds of black smoke. It’s almost as if Europe’s suppliers make special, “Extra-polluting,” models just for South America—might even be pretty close to the truth.

So, in order to avoid coming back the United States with latter-day equivalent of black lung, the Frogette and I have developed a simple rule: If you’re walking uphill, walk against traffic. If you’re walking downhill, walk with traffic. “Why?” you may ask. It’s simple really. You want to catch the buses going downhill at all times. And here in Quito’s historic center, where every road is a a one-way and most streets have a steep slope, nothing is more important than walking where the buses have an opportunity to coast.

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7 thoughts on “Dispatches From South America – The Importance of Down”

  1. Since the global warming scare, the number of large 4WDs being advertised seems to have doubled or tripled.

    Obviously, no one takes global warming seriously anymore and there’s even an ad for Land Rover 4by4 in your sidebar!

    As you walk down the hills, keep in mind that pretentious gas-guzzlers are enjoying a resurgence!

  2. The extra-polluting models are cheaper to make and probably the Ecuadorian EPA has no teeth. I have made the same observation when traveling in countries with emerging economies.

  3. David G… We don’t see nearly as many 4WDs and SUVs here in Ecuador as in the states. Probably the price of gas. Despite the fact that Venezuela sits on huge oil reserves and Bolivia has immense natural gas resources, the cost of fuel here is fairly high, about $1.40/liter. Guess Chavez and Morales don’t like Ecuador.

    Holte… I don’t think that it’s the Ecuadoran EPA (if they even have on). At a rate of $.25/ride–$1.00/hour, if your headed inter-city–these companies must operate on a very thin margin. I’ll bet it’s as simple as, “they buy the cheapest bus available”, and as you pointed out: The more the bus pollutes, the cheaper it is to manufacture.

  4. One of the main reasons for the US off shoring a lot of it’s production is that governments outside the US don’t put as much stock in protecting the environment as we do in the US.

  5. Diesel engines might emit smoke for a variety of reasons. Poorly refined fuel, perhaps? Or an owner operator who scrimps on maintenance, and allows the fuel injectors to serve beyond their time. I’d suspect either or both in a third world make-it-last economy.

  6. Lew… No question, though I’m not sure the we could fairly say that the US puts much stock in protecting the environment…considering that we *do* offshore much of our pollution.

    SBT… Now my woeful ignorance of all things related to engines is really showing. But your suggestions are probably right on the money, and I hadn’t considered either one. :-)

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