Oh Dios mio! What a ride. Within about thirty seconds both Carrie and I felt a sudden urge to vomit. At 2:00 we boarded a packed shuttle headed to Lago de Atitlan (Lake Atitlan). There were 12 others on board and we were the only crazies who planned to jump off early at Los Encuentros. Marco had booked the trip for us and he told us to make sure to “get off where the roads meet.” Apparently the roads met at a Texaco because the shuttle driver suddenly veered off the road and dumped us there. We were no more than a few feet down the street when a man came up to us saying something about “ChiChi.”
We both nodded, “Si, ChiChi!” although we had no clue what he was saying about ChiChi. We assumed he identified us as tourists and was being helpful, and we were right! He pointed ahead and in the short distance we saw a chicken bus on the side of the highway.
In case you don’t know what a chicken bus is let me explain by describing our 20 minute ride from hell. First, a chicken bus is an old American school bus painted up in wild colors with a roof rack bolted on top and retrofitted with bag compartments above your head.
Here’s how you ride a chicken bus to ChiChi. You walk toward one chicken bus and no matter what anyone is saying to you, it doesn’t matter, just say “ChiChi.” Arms will swing wildly pointing you toward the right place to wait for your bus. You better be ready from this point on. We glanced down the street and there barreling toward us at an insane rate of speed was a chicken bus. It came out of nowhere! As it screeched to a halt a man jumped off the roof, ran over to us, grabbed our bags, tossed them in the air to another man on the roof, and pointed us to the bus door. As we climbed on the bus began to move. I think the total stop lasted about 5 seconds. As we lurched down the aisle to the very back where the only seats were located the bus had already gained a speed of about 60 miles per hour. A whiplashing left hairpin turn threw Carrie and I into our seats slamming into the other occupants. We continued this crazy rate of speed and suddenly the back (emergency door) opens and a man climbed into the bus! He is the bag and ticket guy and rides on top until it is time to collect money!
No stop lasts longer than thirty seconds. The chicken bus had a big screen t.v. up front blasting the cartoon movie Turbo. So, not only did we have nausea from the erratic driving, we were also faced with digital race cars trying to run over a snail careening toward us. At one point the music blared “Eye of the Tiger” which we found fitting as we grasped onto the seats for dear life.
All in all, an experience you should do at least once. Too tired to write more, here are some pics! Our adventure in ChiChi will be posted next! Lots of awesome pics of Mayan ceremonial activities.
Audrey and Carrie – two mochachas not too chicken to ride the chicken bus!