You can get anywhere within town on bicycles, motorcycles, tuk tuks, cars and trucks. My town is pretty small so I can walk everywhere, but when I’m pressed for time or carrying a load, I take a tuk tuk. [See above photo] Tuk Tuk drivers fit in as many people as they can. There’s room for three people in the back (though sometimes it’s a squeeze) and two people can sit in front flanking the driver. The front seats are tiny and I always have to hang on to avoid falling out. Add children and babies in the back and you’ve got a crowded tuk tuk. But at two quetzales per ride (27 cents), it’s worth it.
Motos (motorcycles) are everywhere. Women and men alike, drive them. They carry their partners, friends, children and infants on them—without helmets. I see a lot of women that ride side-saddle on the back. [See photo below]
Once I saw a woman holding her sleeping toddler whose limp body dangled from her arms. I often see toddlers and young children sitting in front of the driver. One day I’ll have to ask my friend who is a doctor at the hospital about the frequency of moto accidents; I’m really curious. Peace Corps Volunteers are never ever allowed to ride on motorcycles. Bicycles are okay as long as helmets are used.
People that come from surrounding aldeas (communities) often arrive on the backs of trucks. [See below] On market days, trucks come and go throughout the day, carrying passengers and their children and goods. They often ride on the sides and back rims of the truck which seems pretty remarkable considering the bumpy, curvy roads. I can barely keep myself from sliding one way or another when I’m riding INSIDE a bus!
Our town has one main road that is not wide enough to accommodate parked vehicles, passing traffic, PLUS the large carreteras (large buses) and major transport trucks that pass through town. So there’s a lot of cooperative moving to the sides of the road so larger vehicles can pass. It’s quite a dance.
The carreteras (see above) are what get you from town to town. Bundles, backpacks, and boxes get placed on top of the bus unless you can hold it on your lap. Last weekend, the drivers were kind to me and placed my heavy duffel bag next to them in front of the bus or next to the back exit door. That made it easier for me to grab when I exited—I had to take four buses to my destination. Each carretera has a driver and an ayundante (helper). The ayundante goes up and down the isle collecting fares and helps older women like me climb aboard or jump off. The bus seats can comfortably seat (relatively speaking) two people but oftentimes a third person will squeeze in by necessity. I have never been in an uncrowded bus so you just learn to deal with it like everyone else here does. For sure the inexpensive price of long distance travel makes it worthwhile.
There are also micro-buses but I don’t have any new photos to add of them today. They are simply vans that go a little further outside of town into the neighboring communities. I’ll be taking those to my school sites starting next week. They too, can get very crowded as I noted in my post on FBT Pt 1.
One last thing to note: I have not seen a single airplane overhead since my arrival five months ago. Isn’t that incredible? Living in San Diego and then Brooklyn, there were airplanes over my homes every 10 or 15 minutes, not to mention the frequent helicopters in San Diego. No freeway and airplane noises here! Instead I hear birds, dogs, chickens, roosters, cows, pigs and and every once in a while, fireworks/bombas. The absence of airplane and freeway noise is wonderful.
At night, I’ve become reacquainted with the stars!