This is an excerpt from a chat message with my friend. I'm copy-and-pasting for the sake of time, so please, pardon all the lower case and ill-formed grammar.
so this afternoon. i rode the #18 (a bus i'd never taken) to a place i hadn't been to look at stoves, fridges, and washers. then i walked about 8 blocks--the blocks here are rather large in my opinion--to look at a mattress shop. then i walked to the mall which i had passed on the way to the mattresses. i found a department store that some others had said should have an exercise ball. there were some in boxes with chinese characters but said 66 (way to small, I take a 75) and the lady said "this one in the bag is 76". so i bought it and a pump, then went downstairs to the supermarket. i asked the guard if i could take my bag in, and he sent me to the lockers at the front of the store. i got my key to the locker & then went shopping. i finally found q-tips in the baby section (12 days of TP for a q-tip works, but not ideal), hand soap, more granola, passion fruit juice, and two packs of cookies. i paid, went back for the lockered bag. before i went outside i found bus fare, went to the road, asked some ladies if they knew which bus would go down the main street near my house. they said #85, and it was coming. the driver also said he went down my road. come to find out, the LOOONG way to get to my road. i figured i'd ride it out to know where the 85 goes. well, i got off at the end of his route, and asked some ladies if they knew of a bus that went farther than my road, to make sure i could go far enough (85 went to my road, but not as far as i needed to go). they said 23 & 18 passed by there. so i got on an 18, then walked the two blocks home.
AND, today for the first time i saw a bus driver: talk on the cell, pick up a passenger, hand a ticket, recieve money, shift-gas-steer-shift, return change----pretty much in a time frame of 8 seconds or less.
ps--I made the trip alone! The salesman at the mattress store & the saleswoman at the appliance store were both incredibly patient with me and my fumbling Spanish & "circumlocution"--talking around the subject when you don't know how to say what you want. But I got what I needed. :-)