Chicken Bus

6 Nov

The soundtrack of chickens provided a balance to the rancourous bus engine.  I was on one of the famous chicken buses in guatemala, and yes, there were chickens on the bus.

There were also dogs on the roof.  As well as forty or so people packed into a small bus with seats for made for fifeteen.

There was only one afternoon bus from rural Carmelita to the city and the bus stopped every few minutes to load in more people.  Most of the passengers had to stand.  It was a tight fit.

Then just when there wasn’t room for anyone else, five men wielding machetes and cowboy hats stood waiting on the side of the road.

The driver promptly pulled over and collected the machetes before allowing the passengers to board.  I wasn’t sure if it was a safety precaution or just his attempt at saving space.

The cramped quarters led to curious questions from the locals. The men with machetes were on their way home from working the fields.  They liked tourists, they tell me.  Tourists bring money and work to the region.

There was something of a communal spirit on the bus.  An old man with just one tooth left was given a seat by a young woman.  Only the young children got short shrift.  They weren’t allowed to have their own seats.  When one little girl didn’t budge, a heavy set lady with indigenous garb sat right on top of her until she wriggled herself free from the giant confines of her bossum.

I tried to make her feel better by teaching her rock, paper, scissor.  I’m not sure if she actually understood the rules or whether she just got lucky three times in a row.

I had an opportunity to entertain another little kid on the trip as well.  A woman bearing two very young children stood waiting to board the bus well into the route.  She realized she wouldn’t fit with her children so she passed one of them through an open window into the hands of a stranger.  The second one came to me.

I spent the next several hours of the trip with a sleepy four year old on my lap.  It wasn’t until he peed on me that I was forced to pass him up the bus till he was reunited with his mom.

In the end, I never did find out why someone brought dogs and put them on the roof.  I did learn that the woman with chickens in her sack was off to the market to make a few coins.

And that was my chicken bus experience.

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