|Today was our craziest travel day yet! I think we were on the road for 12 hours...this includes a taxi ride and 5 different buses (3 of which were¨chicken buses¨)...let me take a moment to describe the chicken buses in Honduras and Nicaragua.
Our group decided that we all prefered not to upgrade our bus to a private one, but rather that we wanted to ride with the locals and get the full experience (...in walks... the chicken bus). These buses are great fun and absolute chaos all at once. They look just like American yellow school buses, but they have a little more flair (i.e. maybe a stuffed monkey hanging from the rearview mirror and some streamers flying off of the steering wheel, possibly a hot pink seat cover for the driver seat...). The music is just as festive as the decor and the madness that happens on a Chicken Bus is mind boggling. At any given time you might find a chicken sitting next to you, a random child on your lap or a vendor selling you an unidentifiable object or food product.
At one point during one of our bus changes, half of our groups' bags had been loaded on the bus, when suddenly the driver decided it was time to leave. Knowing full well that we were standing behind the bus trying to load our bags through the emergency exit, he flips it in reverse and back he goes. Not only was this a problem, because we were standing behind a moving bus, but more so because we were about to MISS the bus, as it drove away with half our group and left the others behind. To keep ourselves from being stranded at the Honduras border, we proceeded to sprint after the bus and hop on while it was in motion...the driver, seemed to feel no obligation to let up on the gas, so we could hop on, but, we made it anyway¨ phew!!.
I realize the way I'm describing all of this must sound awful, but it was actually really fun. I loved being right in the heart of the everday people of Nicaragua. In fact I ended up next to a local Nicaraguan and 4.5 hours later, we had talked the whole time (in spanish) about politics, latin american authors, religion, movies, etc. It was great spanish practice for me and a good window in their culture. I have to say I was a bit mentally exhausted by the end of the bus ride, though.
Anyway, I now find myself in Granada, Nicaragua. It's a great town at the base of a couple of volcanoes, both of which were smoking heavily when we pulled into town this evening. We'll be in this city for a couple of days, and I can already tell I really like it here.