Once coming back from Guatemala City my driver and a competitor company’s “piloto”, as they are called, got it in their heads that while what they were driving may have looked and smelled like beat-up old American school buses, were in fact finely tuned Formula 1 race cars.
Now I consider myself to be a fairly game traveler. At least I didn’t want the Guatemalans to think that I lacked the right stuff, so I played it cool.
However things were not improving. When the Guatemalan started gasping I felt a strange combination of relief that they too found all this well beyond the ilk and a swelling realization that this was every bit as precarious as I thought.
On steep mountain roads they passed each other on blind, hairpin corners. I vividly remember honking horns, smoking brakes and violently rocking back and forth. I vainly tried to console myself with the thought that an American school bus is an incredibly sturdy vehicle. Of course, this only made my relative frailty all the more obvious.
I don’t remember who won this ludicrous race but in the end, excluding any psychological damage, we arrived none the worse for wear, not to mention well ahead of schedule.
The chicken buses are cheap; but then they can be dangerous, are certainly uncomfortable and, with any luck, slow. Yet I recommend them highly. For local color and character they can’t be beat.
Besides, think of all the stories you can tell when you get home.