a chicken bus, photo by David Dennis, http://www.gotravellit.com
Each bus has a helper, or ayudante. He walks around the bus terminals (i.e. streets where all the buses congregate) shouting his bus's destination and helping passengers with their bags (i.e. throwing them on top of the bus). This morning we found the ayudante for chicken bus #1. After taking a duffel bag in each hand, he started asking us questions. Uh-oh. I still believe he was asking where in the city of Esquintla we wanted to stop. I kept saying, McDonald's, and that our final destination was Retalhuleu. But he never seemed to understand. Eventually he shrugged, threw our bags on top of the bus, and welcomed us aboard. An hour and a half later, as the bus was picking up speed after a brief stop, Hannah shouted, "HEY! Isn't that..." And indeed, there were McDonald's golden arches. We nodded vigorously at the ayudante, who pounded his fist on the side of the bus, telling the driver to stop, scrambled up to the roof, and tossed our bags onto the sidewalk. As the bus drove away, I gave him a big smile and a dramatic wave good-bye. He was still on the roof laughing.
Other highlights of the day include climbing up the back of chicken bus #2 as it pulled out of the terminal at 40mph (I may be exaggerating) and riding our first tuk tuk after disembarking in the middle of Retalhuleu, having no idea where we were or where we were going.
a tuk tuk, photo borrowed from http://wolincircus.com/Guatemala/