Chicken buses and herbal hippies.

Trip Start Oct 06, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Ecuador  ,
Tuesday, October 18, 2005

After a year backpacking around Latin America, I guess I have to dedicate a blog entry to the unavoidable chicken buses and herbal hippies (maybe herbal is an incorrect description of this group of people, but hopefully you'll get the point).

Long distance buses in most Latin American countries are often very comfortable. Usually much more so than a similar bus back home. Short distance buses (journeys up to five hours or so) however, are typically a totally different story. I am sure you have heard about the dreaded chicken bus. That's the bus where you never have enough legroom (if you are lucky enough to find a seat at all), where the capacity on the entrance door says 40, but where they easily stuff 80 passengers (of course not including chickens, goats, pigs and 100kg flour sacks), where they stop to pick up or drop off passengers every 200m (when you bought the ticket you were of course told that the bus is a direct and special service to your planned destination), where they constantly play terrible music at maximum volume, where you typically after about 20 minutes journey time either have a screaming kid or a toothless 70 year old in your lap, where you usually have at least one puncture along the way, where the guys piled next to you want to talk to you for the entire trip while you just want to close your eyes (don't dream about getting any sleep), where you are constantly worrying about the well being of your backpack (usually stuffed on the roof). The chicken bus, a fun method to transport your body if you've been down here for a couple of weeks. However, after a year on the road, the novelty kind of wears off...

Herbal hippies, another unavoidable phenomenon while out backpacking. To be honest, I don't really know any herbal hippies, so maybe it's wrong of me to write this. However, while eavesdropping on or observing this distinct group of people, I must admit that most of them annoy me quite a bit. Stupid I know, as they haven't harmed me in any way. But I still feel I have to mention them. I probably don't know what I am talking about, but I often thought that being a hippie was all about being a bit different. Herbal hippies however, they are all the same to me. You see them everywhere down here on the Gringo Trail, all walking around barefoot or in worn-out flip-flops, all in colorful pyjamas like trousers, all wearing the same alpaca sweaters or scruffy t-shirts, all (guys) sporting ridiculous beards and with dreadlocks or hair that haven't tasted shampoo in weeks, all bragging about how cheap their dormitory is or why they would never spend the "outrageous" amount of US $1000 to visit the Galapagos Islands, all trying to be as cool and laid back as possible, all being on the Gringo Trail while telling stories about how cool it is off the Gringo Trail, all sitting for hours in organic restaurants or on the sidewalk making jewellery, all being into henna tattoos, herbs, organic stuff and (maybe) smoking dope. And what I find most funny of all, they all seem to be into firefly juggling while their friends surround them playing bongo drums. Ok, give it to me!!!
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