Wednesday, May 11, 2011

There and Back

Last fall I wrote a post about the bus system here in Guatemala, but the truth is that here in site I only get on a bus if I am heading to do a day trip for shopping at the nearest grocery stores (either an hour East or and hour West).

Most days, if I leave my aldea it is to go to the nearest municipalidad where I teach classes in the junior high school and take K'iche' lessons. To get there, I just head down to the highway and hop into the back of a pick up truck. 2 quetzales (about $0.25) and five to forty minutes later, I'm deposited downtown. The variation in time really just comes down to how quickly the truck fills up, or the driver gets bored enough to leave even without a full truck bed. Some days the drivers will head off with only four passengers, and others they will pack upwards of thirty people into a truck.

For safety, the Peace Corps likes us to sit up front in the cab with a seatbelt, or to sit as near the cab as possible if travelling in the back of a truck. I confess, I didn't go for the cab much in the first several months here -- it was more fun to have the wind in my face, and it made me feel more like a local to clamber in the back with the kids headed to school or the women headed to market. Eventually I did sit up a few times, and found the drivers are pretty friendly. Most of them learned who I was early on and will make sure to call out to me when they are heading back to my aldea if I seem too lost in thought to realize I'm walking past my ride home on the street. Which, come to think of it, is pretty often.

Now that the rainy season is getting under way, I have an extra motivation to slip into the cab. The drivers usually whip out tarps to strap over the metal frame over the truck bed (those that have them). This means getting wet isn't too much of a problem, thankfully, but it's irritating when it does happen. If I do end up in the back while it's covered, I sit near the tailgate so I can see out the back and get plenty of fresh air.  They like to pack us in, both people and belongings, and I want to avoid motion sickness as much as possible.

This is a Tuk Tuk.... somewhere between a golf cart and a tricycle.  
The one other option for hitching a ride somewhere is in a tuk tuk. These are far more expensive, and honestly slower, except that they will leave when you want rather than needing to wait on a full truck. They'll also go wherever asked, while the trucks have their specific route. I've probably only ridden in a tuk tuk two or three times in Guatemala. They are fun to see in some of the bigger areas, though. Some get tricked out with flashing lights, music, and a disco ball.

Last weekend my host family gave me a ride home from Xela (nearest city to the East), and I had almost forgotten what it is like to ride in a normal car. Benancio was driving and commented that he's not as good at parking as he used to be, because he's getting out of practice. I wonder just how it will feel to drive for the first time again after two years of being shuttled around by others. It's wonderful I can get around so well without a car here, but it will be a fun feeling to come and go more or less when and where I please again, eventually.

No comments:

Post a Comment