The crowded chicken bus pulled out of the terminal in Belize City and sped along the highway, dropping off and picking up passengers as it went, all the time with its door open. They call these old yellow school buses “chicken buses” because of the chickens that supposedly ride alongside their owners, although I don’t think we shared our ride with any livestock on this particular day.
Entire families cram onto the leather bench seats designed for 2-3 American schoolchildren and in order to enter or exit the bus one must climb over dozens of sweaty bodies.
It’s up to you whether you want to get on or off the bus through the front door or via the emergency exit in the back. The elementary school student in me badly wanted to hop in and out of this previously forbidden door. The buzzing sound that accompanied its opening and closing brought me back to “bus drill” days where we got to practice what we would do in a bus emergency (although looking back I can’t imagine a situation in which 50 school-aged kids would calmly file out of an unmoving bus).
There seem to be no official stops or stations, so as long as you communicate to the driver where you are going and pay his partner your fare “the road with the dead tree” can become bus stop.
As the dangerously deflated tires hit the rutted and cracked road I had to wonder if the hard, unpadded seat given to me by the chivalrous Latin American man was really that much more comfortable than the standing position Logan was stuck in for a large portion of the ride.
Early on our bags were passed to the front of the bus and stuffed next to the front door in order to make room for more riders. We spent the rest of the excursion craning our necks around multitudes of swaying bodies to make sure our lifelines (aka our backpacks) made it to our destination.
Just over three hours after leaving Belize City behind us we pulled into the tourist town of San Igncaio and our colorful chicken bus was relieved if its only two white occupants.
Fare thee well, colorfully painted bus. Until next time.
Dollars and Sense
Chicken bus from Belize City to San Ignacio- $4/ person, 3 hours
TIP: Belize City has a supposedly awesome zoo and you can take a public bus (aka chicken bus) to get there. Just tell the driver you want to be dropped off and be ready to push your way to the door. There is not an official stop there, but there are not really any official stops anywhere, so I assume you can catch the bus back by simply standing alongside the road like the locals were doing.