Aug 16, 2009
In transit to Managua for the Corn Islands, Nicaragua

Today I need to take a bus from San Juan del Sur to Rivas then onto another bus for Managua where I will get on a flight to the Corn Islands. The bus from Rivas to Managua breaks down before we are even at Granada (this is my second broken down bus on this trip). If I didn’t have a flight to catch today, I wouldn’t stress about it and would just wait until either the bus is fixed or… but today, time matters. So we grab our packs and hail down the next bus that comes along, which happens to be headed for Managua. The guy who collects the money gets off the second bus and around up nearly everyone who were on the broken down bus (both bus were full prior to this point) and attempts to shove everyone into one bus. OH MY GOD. I did not think a bus could hold this many people. There are 5 guys hanging off the back of the bus, as in, they are not actually inside the bus, and as we stop along the way, more people tries to get on.

The guy some how still manages to collect money from the right people who have not paid their fare.. how does he know who to collect money from when you can’t even see the front of the bus? I thought we would have to pay again seeing that we are on a different bus now. But, no, we didn’t have to because we have already paid for the broken down bus. Which then brings about the question, are the chicken buses in Nicaragua private enterprise like they are in Guatemala? If all chicken buses are private enterprises in Central America, which I assumed they are, its AMAZING to me that they manage to arrive and depart as promptly as they do.

If the chicken buses are not privately owned and operated then how does the fare collection work? The guy who collects the money sometimes gets off when the bus stops at a certain town, with the money, and another guy gets on and he starts to collect money from the new passengers. All of this happens very seamlessly with no time to hand off the fare collected by one guy to the next. What is going on and how does the system work?

Further more, all of these chicken buses in Central America were once yellow school bus carting children around in the US, how does it get down to Central America? Are they driven down? Are they imported in large quantities? Or does someone who wants to get into the chicken bus business saves up enough money and goes to the US, buys an old school bus and then drive it down himself?

I know this seems like a lot of question about the chicken bus but I can’t help but be curious and fascinated by how the whole thing works. If you know anything about it, will you please enlighten me?

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