|Guatemala City chickenbus|
Guatemala has some interesting public transportation methods.
One is the converted North American school bus known as the "chickenbus." I've read two explanations for the name from the way people are packed in to the locals taking their livestock on them.
Guatemalan highways have plenty of speedbumps. Chickenbus drivers laugh at them.
They're cheap to take and will get you there though it is reputed to be quite terrifying.
Our guide gave anyone who wanted the chance to take an 8 km (5 mi) ride on one these and I jumped at the chance. It was less than a $1.50 US and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.
It was a fairly tame ride, but a worthwhile experience all the same. The seats had more padding that I expected and our short stretch wasn't anywhere near as crowded as I had seen on some buses we'd passed during our tour.
The only problem was the smell which led me to believe there's another reason for calling it "chickenbus."
Luggage is lashed to the top of the bus. Fares are taken by "the brush." That's the fellow hanging out the side door in the photo. He calls out the destinations, too, and is in charge of the luggage. We saw one fellow climbing down from the top while the chickenbus was rushing down the highway.
These buses are colour-coded for destinations. The illiteracy rate in Guatemala is high, upwards of 40 per cent, and this lets a potential passenger get the right one.
I am grateful for the opportunity to ride one of these.
I am grateful it was a short ride.
I am grateful I am not a brush on a chickenbus.
I am grateful I will likely never ride one of these again.
Below are more chickenbuses. Our guide said the country brings these in new from Korea. While they are painted as shown below, there is still some colour coding to help passengers.