Thursday, July 12, 2007

More tales from the chicken bus

An hour a day on the chicken bus has made me think that I could probably start a blog just about chicken buses!

The other day a woman got on and sat next to me. She had a baby on her back and was carrying another bag. After a few minutes I started hearing a funny noise and decided surely the baby was not making the noise. I realized the noise was coming from the bag she was carrying. I asked her about it and she told me it was a chicken. Then she opened the bag so I could peak in, although I only saw feathers. There really are chickens on the chicken bus! The woman proceeded to ask me where I was going and what I was doing. I told her I was working at the library at Pedro Molina and she thought this was very good.

Oh, I probably forgot to mention a few weeks ago our bus, despite sort of braking a little bit, hit a dog. I didn´t see it but I heard it. It was pretty awful. There are often close calls with all the stray dogs running around, but usually they´re paying attention and get out of the way in time..

Yesterday was yet another fun experience. The bus was a little bit late. When we got to one of the towns, perhaps Pastores, they decided to change drivers. So the driver got up out of his seat and the new driver slid into his spot. It was a really quick switch - just a few seconds. The catch is - the bus was still rolling! They didn´t turn it off or set the break or anything, just kept going while the switched!
I think the new guy was a race car driver. I started praying that we would make it safely to Antigua! He was driving so fast, passing semis on curvy mountain roads, trying to pass anything he could in fact. We almost took out a bicyclist as we tried to pass him and then had to get back in the lane when a truck was headed toward us. I heard the bicyclist yelling at the bus. And then I started feeling this weird thumping under the bus, like something was loose - perhaps they were racing back to Antigua and the bus lot before the bus fell apart? Who knows, but we did make it safely.

Yesterday I got on the bus in the morning and there was another American on the bus. I sat with her and we got to talking. She said she had seen me several times- but I had never seen her! She´s a nurse and has been here in Guatemala for 4 years. She´s teaching a number of Guatemalan nurses and does clinics and trainings all over the place. She knows the chicken buses pretty well - enough to even recognize the crazy drivers and not ride on their buses.
She said one time she was taking some visitors out to another town. They got on the bus and didn´t see the driver. When the driver got on Ruth recognized him as a totally insane driver and she wondered if they should get off. But they didn´t. The whole trip she was praying that they didn´t have an accident or die because the driver was so bad and so fast! Every now and then she would look back at her guests in the seat behind her and smile. When they arrived safely at their location she apologized profusely for the ride. But her guests said it was just fine. They were worried at first, but when they saw she seemed fine and didn´t look worried they thought it must be normal and okay!

A week or so ago I was getting on the return bus and was just able to fit in the stairwell. Now, this has happened a time or two before and usually the bus takes off with me hanging on for dear life. But this time the driver didn´t move. He started calling for everyone to move back and to make sure I got a seat. It was very nice of him. But at the next stop several women got on, with kids, and he took off with them in the stairwell. Perhaps they´re used to it and I´m more likely to go flying out the door on the curves.

Well, back to cataloging... =)

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