Day 23: Bus Ride to the Capital

Funky Buses of Guatemala

We were headed to Guatemala City to catch a long distance bus to Nicaragua this morning. It was our first ride on local buses here in Guate, and what fun it was! For less than US$4, we enjoyed a 3 hour journey that was every moment a spectacle. This was the sort of culture shock we sought after when we travel – being rushed onto the bus as our backpacks were thrown onto the rooftop, barely getting a chance to grip on tightly before the driver stepped on the gas, then finding the bus at 200% capacity! Seats that sat 2 were seating 3, people on the aisle dangling half their butt cheeks off the seat edge (KF being one of them). I wasn’t lucky and had to stand at the doorsteps, hanging on for dear life as the bus swerved around a bend; one slip and I’d fall off the bus as the doors were left open. Nice…

More fun to come – we stopped to pick up more passengers. Shit, really?? I think every morning these buses compete to break the record!

Finally a major stop and some people were getting off. Oh how they squeezed through the aisles! One woman was so voluptuous she struggled to pull through and I watched in horror as the little boy in the aisle was being squished alive by her belly..

How I wished I could pull my camera out to capture this shot. At one point all passengers were consolidated to another bus and our backpacks were loaded across the bus tops. We got on from the back this time where I was able to shoot the pic posted on KF’s entry. Not as great but a visual nonetheless.

Closer to Guate vendors would jump on enthusiastically from the back and shout out the snacks they were peddling (“pan de piña y de pollo! tortilla!”), quickly shooting from the back to front of bus, and jumping off the back again to target the next bus that pulled over.

Without doubt a tourist shuttlebus would be much less intimidating but why would anyone pay 10x the price to miss out on all the fun?

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  1. Hyun says:

    Hi Glenn, reminds of my trip in Africa! But I think you guys went through more troubles than probably necessary. When I returned from San Pedro to Antigua the shuttle price was only Q50. And from there you can take a chicken bus to Guatemala City for 8-10 and that ride should last somewhere between 1-1.5hr. When I took a chicken bus from Guatemala City to Antigua it was full but nowhere as physically packed as you describe. If they quoted $20 for a shuttle from the lake area to Guatemala City they were clearly ripping you off and you should have been able to find a better option.

  2. Leslie says:

    Oh the visuals! haha!

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