To truly experiencing travel through Central America, you must take a ride on a chicken bus. Often old beat up North American school buses, chicken buses are a cheap method of travel - but they don’t come without a challenge. Overcrowded, and driven by someone with a death wish, the chicken bus isn’t for everyone. Of course, with the large quantity of people crammed into the vehicles, it is a great opportunity for those with something to sell to make some money.
The diversity of products that come through the buses are intriguing to say the least. Here are some of the more unforgettable items that have come my way so far.
Clowns are something you would expect to find at a children's party. This is certainly not the case in Central America. At any given stop you may find a man dressed like a clown jump on the bus and give the passengers a 5 minute sketch show. As soon as they have finished their set, they will walk down the aisle ready for you to part with some money as a sign of appreciation for the quality of their humour.
Whether you need a few pairs of socks, a new bra or some tighty whities, the sellers on the bus have got it covered. On one journey (only 20 minutes in length) we encountered 4 different underwear specialists come on board to show us their wide range of underwear and lingerie.
You know that feeling of having a headache only to go through your bag and realise you left your aspirin at home? Well in El Salvador you will be able to find a man who looks less trustworthy than a crack dealer come and sell you a huge box of aspirin for only $1. What goes into their magic tablets and the legitimacy of their effectiveness, only they will know - purchase at your own risk!
One bus journey, many years ago, a man must have witnessed something truly eye opening. Someone who was on their way to see a lover must have realised mid journey they had forgotten to bring a condom. In result of their realisation, they stood up and cried “has anyone got a condom I can buy!?”. From that moment the man who witnessed this ordeal saw a gap in the market and realised a lot of money could be made from selling condoms on chicken buses. Because if that did not happen why the hell are people bringing huge sheets of unboxed condoms onto a bus? Alas both times I saw the latex protection up for sale, nobody was prepared to purchase them.
The Angry Mango Man
The story behind the angry mango man is patchy at best, mainly because of my limited understanding of the Spanish language. I am almost sure I heard him say the word mango and I am absolutely certain he was angry. Once his anger fueled speech came to an end he asked the passengers for money. What ever his story was, it worked. He had a lot of people putting their hand in their pocket to show both their understanding and appreciation for the angry mango man anecdote.
I imagine we have all had that moment where we stop to think that our teeth are feeling a little bit furry. We take a moment to rethink the steps of our morning - moving through getting up, having breakfast, to leaving the house. Our heart quickly sinks and our jaw drops - “I haven’t brush my teeth!”. Don't worry, the toothbrush guy on the chicken bus is here to save the day. He will even give you a 3 minute presentation as to why buying a toothbrush from him is a far better choice than buying it elsewhere.
Thinking of getting some specialist information on how to eradicate both the symptoms and route cause of your parasite problems? Forget a doctor or gut expert, just get 20 cent and jump on a bus in Central America. Whilst there, you will be able to find Central America’s very own Del Boy Trotter. He will spend 10 minutes giving you a presentation (with pictures) of why his magic product will cure you of all the damage that your parasite has caused, both inside and outside. If you’re unsure about if you should purchase his life changing health product, he will give you a little sample to take there and then in the hope that you make a purchase.
Who knows what other fantastic and questionable products I will have the opportunity to purchase along my travels!
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