The Perils of Public Transport – breakdowns & indecent proposals

Chicken bus, Guatemala

The case of the BUS

Short sweaty bloke with dodgy sideburns: So how much do you reckon for the chica inglesa?

Grizzled old timer with a lingering eye: Hmm, well, I’ve seen better but I’m not fussy. How about 40 quetzales.

Short sweaty bloke with dodgy sideburns: I was thinking more like 10, she looks like she needs a shower.

Grizzled old timer with a lingering eye: True, lets see what the others think.

It was the middle of a sweltering September night in deepest Guatemala, and the bus had done its usual and broken down miles from civilisation. We’d already been on board for hours, struggling to breathe through the haze of heat and sweat, gasping aloud each time we turned a sharp corner as the cardboard box full of live baby chicks slid precariously across the floor towards the open door. Each time I thought they were a gonner, but the box managed to cling teetering on the edge of the step, stubbornly refusing to deliver its precious contents into the jaws of certain death.

We were now sitting on the roadside surrounded by our fellow travelling companions comprised of an assortment of animals, and a large and rather intimidating bunch of Guatemalan males sporting large and rather intimidaing looking knives. The bus driver, after a lot of muttering and kicking the unfortunate vehicle with his flip-flops, had wandered off into the darkness long ago and hope was fading rapidly as to whether or not he would return. The men were getting cranky and trying to find new ways to pass the time. I didn’t relish the thought of it being me.

Not being the linguist of the family, hubbie was blissfully unaware of the scenario that was unfolding behind us, and I didn’t know what would be worse…to tell him what the men were discussing, or not. In the end I opted for silence as there wasn’t much he could’ve done anyway. No need for us both to be worried. As the night wore on I stopped being afraid and instead became indignant. Surely I was worth more than 10 quetzales?

Thankfully before I got a chance to find out my worth another bus pulled up beside us and we didn’t hesitate to grab our bags and jump on board, without caring where it was heading. Anything would be a step up from the present situation. Thus we ended up making an unscheduled visit to Antigua where we celebrated Guatemalan Independence Day and slept in monastery. A much more cheerful prospect than the bus journey, even with the bed bugs.

I still wonder what happened to the bus driver, and more importantly, what would’ve been the highest bid had I waited to find out?

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