Last week Haruka and I took a little vacation from our vacation, and ventured to Fuentes Georginas hot springs about five hours away by chicken bus. The local buses around here have taken on the moniker ‘chicken bus’ due to the fact that they tend to get packed with locals and all of their wares including chickens and anything else that may need transport from here to there. Interestingly, the Guatemalan postal system evaporated several months ago when it’s contract with a private delivery company ended. It seems that most Guatemalans were hardly affected by this as they rarely used the postal system, but instead use chicken buses to move goods from place to place. As a result, nobody other than foreign residents really seems to care about the dissolution of the postal system, and it appears likely that it won’t resurface anytime soon.
Chicken buses provide a fascinating glimpse into local Guatemalan life, as we get to see a revolving door of different characters utilizing the bus to transport goods or commute to work or school. There is a constant flow of vendors, beggars and con artists getting on and off the buses to peddle snacks, drinks, trinkets or their stories in hopes of generating a little cash. The buses are constantly stopping en route to pick up folks who are flagging them down, and occasionally stopping for a spell in towns along the way. While the frequent stops may extend the length of our trip a bit, they give us front row seats to view fascinating street scenes, from kids playing games to hustlers working their angles to old friends meeting on the corner. And chicken buses also provide a very economical mode of travel. It cost us about $4 each to get within taxi distance of our destination…a fraction of what a tourist shuttle would cost.
These are refurbished, souped-up school buses from the states from days past. I think I remember that bus to Xela from the fifth grade. And the drivers seem to revel in driving them with confident abandon around curves with no guard rails on roads without lines. If you pay too much attention to what’s happening on the road in front, You may lose hairs (if you’re a man). (If you’re a woman, you may grow hair (in weird places)). Either way, I prefer to tune into the various sights, smells and sounds inside the bus, and zone into the ever-changing viewscapes passing by…a carnival for the senses. At one point during the ride to Xela, as we were coasting down the backside of a mountain pass, I got that tingly spine feeling that lights up your whole body…you know the feeling…bliss, we’ll call it, for lack of a better word. That feeling that no matter what kind of lunacy is happening in the world, there are these simple moments that unfold to remind you how incredibly fortunate we are as humans to have this giant canvas to paint our experiences on. Now if we can all just realize that we’re all working on the same piece of art…
Admittedly, these moments of bliss flow pretty easily, and often in rapid succession, within our current lifestyle. And indeed this is a prime reason why we shifted out of our deeply rooted life and into a more vagabond existence for a while. Certainly life on the farm provided an abundance of bliss moments, while traveling yields a completely different flavor of such moments. However, wherever I am and wherever you are, and whatever we may be doing, there’s always this interconnectedness that exists to perpetually bind everyone and everything together. And surely we all have our moments of separation from that web of connectivity, where life can feel rocky and rough, but it’s that ever present option that we all have to tap into that web that makes it possible for us to manifest that tingly spine sensation…bliss~
Where do you find your bliss, friends?