All Aboard the Chicken Bus!

Posted by on Aug 18, 2015 in Central America, Guatemala | No Comments

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Names are quite literal here in Guatemala. A chicken bus is just that – a bus that not just transports humans, but also chickens.

They actually began their lives in the USA as school buses; which are auctioned once they reach 150,000 miles or 10 years. They subsequently are towed through Mexico and are revamped once they reach their destination. This includes a bigger engine and general maintenance, but also features a pimp my ride-esque jazzy repainting. The driver also adds a sound system and stickers (which range from lettering to religious to disney) in the front area and presto – the buses are ready to carry people, chickens, pigs….

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A 40 person bus can fit 100+ people– that’s if you’re sitting 3 deep a seat and have 50 odd more people crushed in the aisles. Even if people are hanging out the door, you’ve got your face in someone’s hair and if the bus brakes suddenly you won’t move, you’re wedged in that tight – there will always be room for one more person.

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 When you get chicken buses right, they’re great fun- the bus blares latino music, you meet interesting locals and it costs you a princely 20 quetzals (about £1.70) or less for a 2 hour bus ride. When you end up with a journey like the aforementioned, you’ve just got to engage in the cheerful Guatemalan spirit that things may not be perfect, but the world is still turning, and enjoy the ride. Are chicken buses safe? Not completely, but life is a risk, isn’t it? My time on chicken buses certainly doesn’t sound as bad as other methods of transport in Latin America, like the death train from Bolivia to Brazil!

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One thing I would never do or advise is getting a chicken bus at night. Not only are the social issues of Guatemalan buses much more pronounced at night but the roads are unsafe and poorly lit. As you can imagine, accidents aren’t uncommon on these buses but the overwhelming majority of them occur after sunset.

Have you ever gotten a chicken bus? Do you have any tales from them?

 

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