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Meredith’s Travel Diary

Wednesday, 03 Jan 2007

Location: Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

MapGonzales y Esmeralda

Gonzales was a speedy little chicken bus. He careened around corners, overtook fuel tankers and generally behaved like a boy racer. The conductor frequently climbed out the window and onto the roof while Gonzales was at full tilt. I was reminded of Gonzales, my donkey in Egypt who unceremoniously flung me over his ears onto the gravel. He spat Kate and I out in Los Encentros and we changed to Esmeralda the wicked witch. In the hustle I had my hand bag slashed clean through with a knife. Luckily nothing was taken because I managed to squeeze onto a seat.

Esmeralda had a similar death wish. Chicken buses are ex US school buses which are shipped to central american as soon as they are deemed unfit for transporting US kids. Brakes are supplemented by large blocks of wood behind the back wheel for hill starts. Usually there are 4 people to a seat. Babies are slung across mothers' backs and instinctively learn to duck as they are flung around poles and corners.

Gonzales, Esmeralda and friends delivered Kate and I to Lake Atitlan in 4 hours shaken but laughing. Only a 15 minute boat ride remained. We hopped onto a lancha and I caught sight of her name reflected in the water, La Titanica.