Thanksgiving, San Andres Xecul and the Infamous Chicken Bus

When we are not in class filling our brains with Spanish we have been happily hanging out with the students at ICA. There is a broad range of students from all over the world and it is a treat to get to meet all these really great people.

On American Thanksgiving one of the students offered up his apartment for a full-on Thanksgiving meal. Everyone seemed keen and before long the potluck list was full of traditional dishes. This was probably partly due to the fact that more than a few of the students are finding the Guatemalan meals a bit tiny! The dinner was amazing and everyone (about 25 or 30 people) happily stuffed themselves with real turkey (thanks Ben and Krista), mashed potatoes, veggies, gravy and stuffing among other tasty dishes. Pumpkin and apple pie finished off the evening.

This past weekend we set out to see the yearly festival of a local town called San Andres Xecul. The town boasts a technicolour church covered with saints, angels, animals and vines as the background complete with neon lights on the inside. A small fair is set up in front on the church where rides, like the ferris wheel, are hand-operated! Apparently at some point during the weekend there is a pole-climbing contest, which I would assume, is rather interesting judging by the amount of alcohol being consumed. During the afternoon, a long speech by a town leader was followed by (as with all festivals here) a ridiculous amount of fireworks. And then the real party started…dozens of people dressed as conquistadors and animals came out to dance for the crowd. The theme of the Mayas being conquered by the Spanish is a recurring theme in most of the festivals. It seems they have not forgotten.

Getting to and from San Andres Xecul was taken care of the by the local buses fondly known as the, “Chicken Buses”. Take your regular old cheese-wagon from elementary school, pimp it out with chrome details and religious iconography and cram as many humans onto it as possible and then throw in a few more for good measure. Add in your host for the ride, the ayudante, who will scream out the bus destination 20 times in under a minute and call it a day. Welcome to transport Guatemalan style.

All the chicken buses have female names — rumour has it that the buses are usually named after the driver’s mother or daughter. Though they have prayers for safe passage pasted to the windshield they are actually a rather unsafe form of transport due to the umm…driving style and it is not unheard of for backpacks to be swiped when you aren’t paying attention. I have to admit traveling by car beats the chicken bus hands down. But they do look really cool.

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  1. Michaela’s avatar

    I love the Chicken bus! How cool. You don’t see those even in New York city.. lol The colors of Guatemala are quite vibrant.

    Great post!

  2. erick’s avatar