Best/Worst Public Transportation in the World!
I already miss the accessible, easy, cheap, and sometimes completely horrifying public transportation in Guatemala. For around a dollar, you can get pretty much anywhere in Antigua via tuk-tuk or chicken bus. Tuk-tuks can be found all over the planet, I know I recently saw some in India on Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods and was all “HEY! I KNOW THOSE CRICKETY CARTS!” One wheel in the front, two in the back, it’s basically a pod on wheels that functions like a motor bike. This is one of two options in Guatemala for getting around.
A lovely tuk-tuk of Antigua, Guatemala
The other option is the chicken bus. Retired American school buses, these are sent to Guatemala and repainted in fabulous colors, and given upgraded engines to make them go faster. This also means they puff out thick black smoke in your face as you walk down the streets. The buses in Ecuador aren’t old school buses, but they perform the same black smoke monster magic tricks as the buses in Guatemala.
With buses in Latin America, it’s normally around 25 cents to get around a city, and if you are traveling around a country, one dollar an hour. They all use a hop on/hop off system which I think is both a blessing and a curse. The genius part is that there are no bus stops, less for the government to maintain and mess up. When you see a bus you want (destinations are usually painted on the front of the bus) you wave it down and hop on, when you want to get off you just walk up to the front of the bus and the driver will stop for you. The only problem this poses for travelers is if you don’t know where you are going, but people are so friendly you can ask anyone you are sharing a seat with and they will gladly tell you when you get off the bus.
Chicken bus and a tuk-tuk
Guatemalans will shove as many people as possible onto one bus, which means sometimes you might have a man’s armpit in your face, a baby on your knee, and an old woman’s braid wrapped around your arm, as well as a basket of fruit sitting in your lap and a chicken running across your feet. No worries! When you are whipping around mountains at 80 miles per hour, it's nice to have someone to lean on. Just keep an eye out for your bag and get friendly. The man next to you probably isn’t rubbing his bulge on your leg on purpose, there’s just nowhere else to put it. Really.