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Chicken Bus Terminal in Antigua Guatemala BY RUDY GIRON

Chicken Bus Terminal in Antigua Guatemala

This photograph and many of the images I have shared during the last ten days were made while leading a very intense and comprehensive one-on-ne street photography workshop. We shot inside the market, the bus terminal, the municipal cemetery, on the streets of Antigua Guatemala and the Mayan village of Santa María de Jesús. We shot in the morning, afternoon and at night. As part of this comprehensive workshop we also covered Lightroom workflow and editing and camera settings for different photo styles and best lenses for street photography and street portraits. If you would like to bring up the level your photography book a comprehensive and intensive photography workshop with me. I will be glad to share everything I know.

Chicken Bus Acrobatics by Rudy Giron -

Chicken Bus Acrobatics

How many times is this image repeated every day in Guatemala? I’d say a few hundred times since the ayudantes, helpers, often …

Guatemalan Chicken Bus Kitsch by Rudy Girón

Guatemalan Chicken Bus Kitsch

I am truly convinced that Guatemalans can not do anything in a mild, neutral, gray manner. Guatemala is a country of extremes …

Guatemalan Chicken Bus Kitsch

Among my photographic resolutions for 2011, I have written down: Documenting all the chicken bus kitsch decorations. How about a teddy bear …

Colorful Chicken Bus Terminal

A quick trip to the handicrafts market provides a handful of colorful images like the one above. Stay tune for upcoming photos …

Marimba Orquesta Chicken Bus Ave Lira

Like Manolo said, with Marimba music as the background for many parties and celebrations around La Antigua Guatemala and the rest of the country, I can almost smell the pine needles under my feet and the tamales and ponche (fruit punch) in the air. Oh what memories… sometimes I even wish I could like this type of music. 🙁

Marimba Chicken Bus and Church of San Pedro

Well, well, what we have here… what’s up with that, why are Guatemalans so enchanted with the infamous chicken bus. I mean what makes Guatemalans take on the crappy junk and retired school buses from up north and give them a second life as public transit chicken bus, mobile libraries chicken bus and now as a marimba orquesta mobile unit chicken bus.

Chicken Buses are The Second Life of School Buses

Unless you have taken the path of La Marche de l’empereur, you haven’t heard about how everyone is living a virtual second life through a community web site. Well, old and retired school buses from the U.S. get to live a real second life as camionetas (the street name for public transit buses in Guatemala). Revue Magazine had an in-depth article about The Birth of a Camioneta (available as a PDF download) which detailed step-by-step how an old retired school bus became a powerful camioneta ready for the curvy roads of the mountain ranges of Guatemala.

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, 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.

Chicken Bus Stop in La Antigua Guatemala

Chicken bus is the derogatory term used for Guatemala’s rural public transportation system. The chicken bus is the second life for the old school bus in the third world. The chicken bus ride can make for a great post card or provide enough material for your exotic travel chronicle. But, chicken buses do not make for a safe and quality transit system and as a such they do not have designated and built-for bus stops. The omnibus stops can be anywhere, including in the middle of the main entrance or exit to La Antigua Guatemala.

Inside the Mobile Library Chicken Bus

Some of you have asked to update yesterday’s entry about the Mobile Library Chicken Bus with information on how to help and how to send donations. Come on people, you did not think I was going to left the entry about bibliobuses there, right? I have three more photos to go, one per day, as that is our agreement. I will be posting all this information for you to help and donate to such worthy project.

Mobile Library Chicken Bus

Here is an interesting twist for the infamous chicken bus. Turn it into a bibliobús or mobile library bus so you can take the books to the communities that lack a library. For now, they have two bibliobuses, but I believe they will need a whole fleet to cover all the communities that do not have a library in Guatemala.

Now I know where I will be donating my next batch of books. The two mobile library buses belong to the Non-Government Organization (NGO) Probigua, which stands for Proyecto Bibliotecas Guatemala (Libraries Project of Guatemala). Come back in the next few days to learn more about the project and to see the inside of a “chicken bus”.

The Library Tour: the reception desk

We will begin a mini tour of the library at the Compañí­a de Jesús building under the care of Cooperación Española NGO or Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional as it is called in Spanish.

But first the disclosure: I love libraries; even chicken bus libraries! 😉

If you read, you succeed

The bibliobuses’ route takes them around Sacatepequez, that is the name of the State where La Antigua Guatemala is located—called Departamentos in Guatemala, visiting the villages around La Antigua for two hour per stop and returning every week. So kids with no access to public libraries, get the chance to read and check out the material in the mobile library chicken buses once a week. Here is the side view with the contact information of Probigua and their motto: Please Help Us to Help!

Paca Nation

Because I am a politically correct person I will say that Guatemala is one of major recycling centers for things discarded in …

Much Ado About Nothing

The chicken bus barely stopped while crossing over 4a calle oriente; the main artery that becomes the exit to Guatemala City. A …

Tuk Tuk Toy

Believe it or not, the tuk tuk motorcycles which are used as short-run taxis, tourist police patrols units and grocery delivery vehicles …

Guatemalan Town Fair Pizza

We get a lot of things from our neighbors from the big white north like remittances, retired chicken buses, junk cars, and …

Recycling Sewing Machines

I have talked about the recycling done in La Antigua Guatemala before with Haves and Have-Nots, Public Enemy Number 1, Guatemalan-style Salt …

The Nun and The Limousine

It is quite common to see nuns and priests walking around La Antigua Guatemala since this town is basically almost 100% Catholic. …

Horseback Riding Through Town

Whenever you come across people riding horses or donkeys over the cobblestone streets of La Antigua Guatemala you feel like you are …

Marimba Orquesta AVE LIRA Sign

The Marimba Orquesta Ave Lira Sign is so small that you may have trouble finding their home-base. I have published a photo …

From Blue Bird to Green Quetzal

The typical Guatemalan camioneta (public transit bus or chicken bus for those who like the colourful derogatory term) is based on an …

Caldo de Piedra Library Project

Boy, do I have a soft spot for libraries! Often I highlight library projects like the Bibliobús of Probigua, which I nicknamed …

Guatemalan-style Salt and Pepper Shakers

eck, sometimes we even do some local recycling too. For instance, all those empty hard liquor bottles can have a fulfilling second life as salt and pepper shakers.

What I like about the people of Café No Sé is that they know when they are onto something; at once they apply the Café No Sé branding, and just in case, they make sure it is registered. These are my kind of hippies! 😉

Street photography or voyeurism?

I believe that I do tend to be a voyeur or obsessive observer when it comes to capture the most natural street life scenes. My goal is to capture the intriguing split-second scene. I do not like posed photograph, especially posed street photos because once the subject is aware of the lens the natural feel is lost; the window that I open for you into the daily life of La Antigua Guatemala is broken.

Chicalote’s Flower and Seed Cocoon

Further in the background, you see the leaves of one of Guatemala’s most edible weeds: Quilete (also known as yerba mora and macuy). Yerba Mora is the weed in the background with the tiny yellow flowers. Guatemalans’ diet include many weeds and herbs. I will list them here as a sort of to do list and to see if other Guatemalans can help with translating some of the names. Guatemala’s most edible weed goes by the name of Chipilí­n and it used in so many dishes like chuchitos, mixed with rice, with chicken in a creamy white sauce. Other weeds, that I remember right now, are Bledo (young green amaranth), Berro, Acelgas (chard), Espinacas (spinach), Loroco, Flor de Izote, Flor de ayote. I am sure this is only a fraction of the list… can you point out other weeds and herbs a I left out.

Ciudad Vieja Cathedral Dome

In the picture above you can see the dome of the Ciudad Vieja Cathedral; a town four kilometers away from La Antigua Guatemala. Now a little trivia information. Ciudad Vieja was the second settlement of Guatemala City right before they moved it to where La Antigua Guatemala is now. Thus, its name means Old City or Ciudad Vieja in Spanish (check the aerial shots of Ciudad Vieja).

We Move Books!

The back of the mobile library chicken bus has even the same typography and three-step color gradient as the public transportation buses. …

Public Transit In Antigua

LD talks about the differences in public transit between Toronto and Guatemala on her entry about Problem solved?. It is a bit …

Illegal billboard

One of the benefits of living in or around La Antigua Guatemala is the lack of billboards. Isn’t weird that I start …

Book an Enchanting Antigua Photo Walks with photographer Rudy Giron

Antigua Photo Walks Received the Travelers’ Choice Award: Best of the Best 2021

Last month, TripAdvisor & Viator notified me that my photographic experiences were a Travelers’ Choice Award winner! Best of the Best 2021 Top 1% of the Things to Do in the World for the Antigua Photo Walks I lead around town and in the rest of the Guatemala. I have also received the Certificate of Excellence for 2016, 2017, 2018, & 2019… TAP to see the full size photo and award.

Window Gardens

In other places of the world, windows are just windows. In La Antigua Guatemala windows are shop displays, gardens, pet spots, plant …

Resistance is Futile

Pollo Campero is Guatemala’s most successful transnational company. With its tender, juicy and crunchy fried chicken, Campero has done what other Central …

A Weekend At the Ruins With the Family

Many Guatemalan families take advantage of the peaceful and tranquil atmosphere surrounding the church, convent and monastery ruins around La Antigua Guatemala …

Play it with Pride (Part I)

Regardless of how I may feel about the marimba, this instrument and its waling sound are very important to Guatemalans all over. …

I read to my little brother

Kids reading to kids; now we are onto something! While reviewing the wishlist for the Caldo de Piedra Library Project, I occurred …

Poinsettias and Pine Needle are Christmas Decorations in Guatemala

Manolo and Carmen were reminiscing just the other day about the smells associated with the Christmas season in Guatemala. Pine needles have a very peculiar smell and indeed its smell its burnt in the Guatemalan collective memory of Christmas and birthdays parties. Flor de Pascua or poinsettias are a visual cue of the upcoming Christmas as well. Shops know this and they use pine needle and poinsettias among other Christmas decorations to reel in the customers; it seems to be working just fine in this shop.

Guatemalan Fair: The Charcoal-broiled Meat Booth

The charcoal-grilled meat stall has gotten so hip that you now find it not only in fairs, but around La Antigua Guatemala in parks, markets and sidewalks. Back in February 20th, 2007, I showed you an extremely popular stall of grilled meats in Tanque de la Unión park from a bird’s eye point of view. In the picture above, chicken and beef steak were being offered along broiled potatoes. Q10 ($1.25) for a portion of the meat of your choice, chirmol (read the side note), guacamol and potatoes; definitely, not too bad of a deal.

La Antigua’s Old-style Mercado Stand

Diversify is very sound advice for any business. Patsy, who loves chicken, would say, don’t put all the eggs in one basket. So, it is no surprise to find stands, like the one pictured above, in La Antigua Guatemala’s market which sells all kinds of items. This photograph gives an idea for a new easy game (we haven’t got a game for a while) for this weekend.