Guatemala City ~ riding the Chicken Buses

An excerpt from my travel diary during our 3 months in Central America


Bus Terminals in Guatemala City


Chicken Bus in GuatemalaThe bus terminal is a hive of activity as we arrive from El Salvador and search for the next bus on our journey to Antigua, Guatemala.  Colorful buses are parked every which way and the sounds bombard us as we weave our way through the crowds of people. The sounds of honking horns, whistles, grinding gears and revving engines could be overwhelming to someone who has never experienced riding a chicken bus in Central America.  After two months into our trip we could almost tone it out but not completely.  Hawkers with pull carts and baskets on their heads or lottery tickets in hand yelled their prices to everyone and anyone who will listen.


Standing room only on the Chicken Bus


Our not so friendly attendant didn’t like our large packs and kept insisting they be thrown up to the roof of the bus and strapped down with other luggage and boxes and bags filled with merchandise.  Having seen too many bags falling off the roof there was no way ours were going up there.  It’s easy to understand because these old school buses that we would normally seat two people were expected to seat three and our bags prevented that.  Paying an extra fare satisfied him temporarily but the stares he sent my way periodically indicated he really wasn’t happy about it.  These old Blue Bird school buses at least had padded seats and were the perfect place to sit and watch the activities around us. Once every seat had at least three people on each there was only standing room and that was taken up quickly.  Once it appeared there was absolutely no room for another person 10 more were stuffed in.  That’s when the attendant then worked his way through the crowded bus and collected his fare.  All in a days work it seemed. More people means more money and that’s what is important.


La Antigua, a destination for language study


A clean and bustling town filled with international tourists and we immediately liked it here in Antigua.  Most are here to study Spanish at one of the many reliable language schools available.  We were really excited to explore and find the schools and sign up for some lessons.  Even though we had been travelling through out Central America and Mexico for two months we still were not fluent.  Although the best way to learn a new language is total immersion we were around enough English speaking people we didn’t always have to use the little bit of Spanish we had learned.  By signing up for Spanish lessons at a school we also signed up for home-stays where we stayed with local families providing a perfect situation for immersing yourself into the local language. It’s also a very economical way to have a place to stay, home cooking and an education.


Luis, my instructor assures me that by the second week I will understand him a lot more than when I first started. I was mildly optimistic but he was definitely right.  Each day we spent five hours studying and by the end of each day was exhausted.  I hadn’t been in school for a long time and both my kids found it easier than I did, but I did learn, even though I understand it better than I speak Spanish.  I wish I had either gone straight to Antigua when we first arrived in Central America to study first and then traveled and practiced what we had learned.  It really doesn’t matter though – it has been a fabulous trip and a life changing experience.

 more to follow….

Carol Ann Quibell

If total immersion is not possible when learning a new language the next best thing is taking a reliable online language training program and the one I have found to be one of the best is Rocket Languages. Click Here!






Did you like this? Share it:
About Carol Ann 113 Articles
Writer, traveler, RVer sharing her travel logs and information.