Monday, February 25, 2008

Seven buses, two rickshaws, and a tuc-tuc

After our night of drinking it was hard to get up and catch a 7am bus. When we did get up around 5, we found out from the American woman in the room next to ours that two girls had come in drunk at 3 am and eaten everybody's food out of the refrigerator. They were still passed out on the couch. We didn't have too much in there, just some yogurt and water. The hotel owners had offered to give us a ride to the bus stop to save us having to lug the big suitcase up the hill. We got there in time for the 7 o'clock bus to San Salvador.

A real chicken bus

Our British friends had told us how we could get to Antigua without going through Guatemala city. There is a very direct route going west, but we asked several people and there are no buses that go that way. We had to go all the way to the most southwestern border of El Salvador. The bus wasn't crowded. We put our big suitcase in the back and sat next to it. A lot of folks were getting on with big things in baskets that I guess they were bringing to sell in the city. One old lady had three big jugs of goat's milk that she could barely get a round with. There's an ayudante (helper) who gets people and their stuff on and off the bus as fast as possible and alerts the driver when to stop and when to go. He also collects the money once you are on the bus. It's a very efficient system. He also shouts out the places the bus is going trying to get people on. The guy we had on the way up to Suchitoto was a real character, calling everyone on the bus niƱos (children).

An old man got on the bus at one point and had a quarter in his ear. I pointed this out to Alaine and we watched him for a while. When the ayudante came around the man pulled the quarter out of his ear and gave it to him.

Pastries going to market. Who's that in the corner?

We arrived at the Terminal de Oriente (Eastern Terminal) of San Salvador about 8:15. We had to take a city bus to the other terminal to get to our next destination, Sonsonate. The ayudante said we wanted the number 7 bus. When we got on I had to heave my suitcase over the turnstile. The aisle was wide enough that I could roll it to the back of the bus and a guy helped me find a place to put it. After we sat down I thought to ask Alaine if she had confirmed with the driver that this bus went tot the other terminal. Nope. I didn't either. We asked some people sitting around us and, after some discussion, they said it did not go to the terminal. We wanted bus 7C. They said if we got off at the next stop a 7C bus would come along. We did and one passed us right by. The second one did stop though and we eventually got to the terminal, where a more comfortable bus was waiting to take us to Sonsonate.

Cycle Rickshaw

In Sonsonate we stopped for a small meal and got on our 5th bus of the day, to the Guatemala border. At the border we changed some of our dollars to Quetzals and got a ride in a cycle rickshaw, which is like a big tricycle with two wheels in front, one in back and a bench seat in the front. He could only take it as far as the actual border line where we got into a Guatemalan rickshaw. No problems with immigration and no customs at all. We had to wait about 45 minutes for our 6th bus, to Escuintla. Then some more waiting and the 7th, and final bus, to Antigua.

And here we sit, in a lovely little hostel called Yellow House for which we are paying about $16 a night including breakfast.

More later


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Beer (and other spirits)

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