Chicken Bus and the Driver’s Assistant

Chicken Bus and the Driver's Assistant

Guate, Guate, Guate… vamos vaciooossss!

That is what you hear the chicken bus driver’s helper yell out as the omnibus makes its way back into Guatemala City. But there are all kinds of yellings: Antigua, Antigua llega llega… dale, Chimal, Chimal, Chichi, Chichi, Xela, Xela and so on.

Guate, Guate, Guate… vamos vaciooossss! Guatemala, Guatemala, Guatemala, we are empty is what the driver’s ayudante (helper) would yell out if they are full, like this.

Instead of writing all the possible things the driver’s assistant of a chicken bus can yell out I leave you with Zacatenango; an electronic-genre song with samplings of many different call outs from chicken buses and sounds of Guatemala. Zacatenango is the third song in an awesome anthology by the name of Democracia Sonora (Sonic Democracy) which is a compilation of electronic songs made by Guatemalan DJs with the common thread of samples of street sounds of Guatemala and its public transit system. You can download Democracia Sonora from; a site dedicated to the work of Guatemalan DJs and their electronic creations.

© 2007 – 2017, Rudy Giron. All rights reserved.

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  • LD

    Thanks, Rudy. And people should know that sometimes “vacio” doesn’t really mean it’s empty. They’ll yell it out to get you in the bus, you get in, only to find out it’s standing room only. Such is life on the chicken buses.

  • Jerry T

    Yes, that sounds like the tempo of Guatemala, although I think it might be missing a few horns honking. (LOL) Where do the buses get their feminine names?

  • Monica

    Awesome song, thanks for sharing…

  • As soon as I saw your picture, I could hear the sound of ‘Guate!, Guate!, Guate!’ in my head, before I even read your description. Brings backs memories of my (very short) holiday in Guatemala. My other favourite yell was ‘WayWay! Way!Way!’ for Huehuetenango.

  • that bus has a nice paint job. how much is the cost to ride the bus, is it set by mile?

  • ale

    The “technical” name is “cholojo”. (sorry that I couldn’t catch up with you, next time with more time. You know how it’s is.)

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  • norm kwallek

    I think the men hawking the Chicken buses along side the market in Antiqua yelling Guata-Guata-Guata is what my children recall the most about our trip to Guatemala years ago.
    I think they have the extra guy on those buses to act as an extra set of eyes on the road. The people in Guatemala City drive like crazy people and you need a lookout just to keep from crashing into someone or something.