Guatemala’s Chicken Bus “Camioneta”
Guatemala’s Chicken Bus, or as they call it in Guatemala the “Camioneta”, is a crucial element of the transit system within the country, and also many other Central and South American locations. The Chicken Bus gets its name from the use of the bus’s roof rack, which typically holds baskets full of market goods, and many times live chickens.
Within Guatemala, the Chicken Bus is a popular source of transportation and part of the country’s culture. These buses are painted in bright and distinctive colors, which represent the area the bus travels to, so the patrons know which bus to chose. Because of a high illiteracy rate among Guatemala’s inhabitants the Chicken Bus’s colors are crucial for the customers to recognize the bus’s destination. The Camioneta is usually built from retired U.S. school buses that are brought down to Guatemala and rebuilt to sustain the necessary power to climb through the mountainous terrain of the country’s highland roads.
These unique buses are not part of the country’s public transit system, as they are privately owned and operated, usually by a driver and an assistant. The driver’s assistant will collect patron’s money, and help passengers board the bus, often while still in motion, along with their luggage – including produce and livestock. Because the Camioneta will visit heavily trafficked locations, especially on market days, many visitors will be surprised as the bus will be at full-capacity, with standing room only and the roof racks loaded down.
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