Trip Start Sep 01, 2007
Trip End Sep 10, 2008

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Flag of Guatemala  ,
Monday, October 1, 2007

holy crap chicken buses!  let me tell you about it.
nothing we have done so far on this trip or reading in a book could prepare us for the difference after we crossed the border to guatemala.   the border is freaky and everyone appeared to be drunk---crap.   then we found the chicken bus stop.  double crap.  

guatemala is where old school buses from the states go to die and get reincarnated as the devil on wheels.   really.  you remember going to school on the bus, right?  there are maybe 20 seats.  this does not mean 20 or even 40 passengers is full.    nope.  it seems the favorite guatemalan past time is to cram as many humans as possible onto or into any moving object.   this includes 3-4 per moped or motorcycle, 10-15 in the back of a truck (only toyota by the way) and upwards of 60-80 people on the school bus.   yes, 3-4 per EACH of those seats we used to sit in.   but that isnīt all.   remember this is the devil incarnate.   so each bus is named "god help me " or "thank god" and has a crucifix and photo of jesus in it.    they are painted to the nines and decorated all over.    and then they add 3-4 ladders up the back, sides and front.    this, this is for the athletic dude helper who crawls all over the bus while it careens down the road to put stuff on the top or get it down for passengers.   the dude will disappear out the front, up the ladder, and then at the stop, down come the boxes and he reappears through the back door at 45 miles an hour all the while collecting tickets and money from the passengers.   i was certain that we left him behind on the street several times only for him to literally swing in to the cab from the ladder.   that leaves the driver free to drive??  no way,   he is on the phone, the cb and passing 3 wide on a 2 lane uphill blind corner.  little dude will wave at the passed cars as we go by.    and evidently the driver knows just how fast he can take hairpin corners.   turns out---really freaking fast is how fast you can take a corner, fully loaded and not flip the thing.   who knew?  oh, and occasionally there is an extra helper.   usually an older man who feels free to help himself to the horn judiciously as he sees fit.  

and donīt think that there are actual stops either.   remember how hard first gear was as a kid?  well now itīs ruined.  first gear sucks so the driver tries not to use it if possible.    people wait on the side of the road and wave to the driver.   he SLOWS down and they run and jump on the bus.    little old ladies too.   the door therefore stays open all the time and little dude stands in it yelling the destination to passersby so they know to RUN if they want this bus.   and if you donīt know exactly where you are going, where you are now and when that stop is coming up, you are up the creek, no, in the creek, no paddle with your drawers full of poop.     we were planning our escape for miles.    

no chickens on them though, so i donīt know why they are called chicken buses yet.

other than this, guatemala is extreme in every way, including the beauty.  the steep canyon walls and rivers that rush through them are amazing. guat is full of opposites too.   very dirty at the same time as pretty.  really poor looking people talking on cell phones.   really well dressed ladies in high heels walking in ankle deep trash.   weird.  nothing could have prepared us. the thing that kept me laughing instead of white knuckling is the comedy with which one could imagine irene trying to do the chicken bus helperīs job.

  tomorrow we are trying more chicken bus adventures.   wish us luck.
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