Saturday, September 22, 2012

Chicken Bus

The cheapest way to get from one city to the next in Guatemala is by chicken bus. It is also a very unique experience and you need to use the system at least once if you go to Guatemala.

I was able to get from Comalapa to Antigua for less than $2 and it required a transfer in between. The chicken bus system appears--at least to the ignorant eye--to have no system or schedule. Yet, somehow it works. Luckily the first time I used the system I went with two other volunteers, one of which had prior chicken bus experience.

What a wild ride. Chicken busses are school busses painted in funky colors. I think the seats are made longer so they can uncomfortably fit three adults. The busses are operated by two people, the driver and another.

The other has to yell out the open doors where the bus is going to as well as to climb on the roof to put the bigger luggage. Did I mention he does this while the bus is moving? He also collects the fare. I am not really sure how he knows who he has collected from or not as he does not collect it at entry. He chooses--to me--a random time and collects from those he has yet to collect from.

After our first bus we hopped on a bus in Chimaltenango. We were fortunate enough to be able to sit down at the very front of the bus instead of having to stand the whole way. I watched out the open door as one young Guatemalan hopped on the bus and either decided it was too crowded and got off, or he fell off. I saw him fall on his backside and smash his head on the tire of a parked car. I have no idea if he was okay or not as the bus just kept on going. All I saw was some kind soul making sure he was okay. I decided at that point that the further inside the bus the better. I made sure one of my hands was touching my wallet at all times in that close of range.

The bus itself winds at high speeds up and down the mountain. It doesn’t really stop for those getting on or off; it just slows down enough for the transaction to take place. Sometimes the only thing in between objects and a chicken bus going at high speeds around sharp corners of the mountain is the sound of the horn on the bus.

There is no such thing as personal space on the chicken bus. With such a cheap fare the busses need maximum capacity in order to operate. In order to find maximum capacity on the chicken bus, you just have to add 3 people to every seat and then load the aisles up until you are no longer breathing oxygen, just the carbon dioxide from others as they exhale. Once you reach this point, you only need to add about a dozen more people to achieve maximum capacity.

No comments:

Post a Comment