Chicken Buses Aren’t Actually Filled With Chickens (and other revelations)

I would like to begin this recollection with a quote from my journal entry from my 8th day in Guatemala:

“Today it was hard to pay attention in class and I felt sick to my stomach.”

Little did I know that was because I had creatures eating my insides, though I am getting ahead of myself. I simply wanted to reiterate my previous statement that it was all downhill from week 1. Week two was simply the beginning of my slow, painful deterioration.

The week consisted mostly of exploring the city, partially of me complaining about a change in bathroom habits, and simultaneously *completely being homesick. (And a little sick-sick).

I walked to Spanish-school every morning alongside what I lovingly named ‘The Goat Posse” (picture at the bottom of the page), and each afternoon the girls and I would meet up and try something new.

A few of those things included:

-Tasting Guatemalan hot chocolate. Which tasted like milky-butter. (Which basically means regular butter). Which would probably deter a normal human from drinking the whole mug…

-Taking the first of many chicken buses that would be taken in the following weeks. Then realizing the buses do not contain real chickens. Then realizing that was a stupid thing to think, of course there wouldn’t be chickens on the bus. Then accidentally looking out the window of the bus to discover a lady hiding behind the row of chicken buses snapping actual live chickens’ necks, which is totally cooler than riding in a bus with chickens.

(I unfortunately was too shocked to get a picture of the chicken-neck-snapping lady, which makes the top 10 list of my biggest regrets in life (right underneath not going to see 1D in concert before the split). These are however the very buses that sheilded the act, so that’s gotta count for something).

-We visited “Pastores,” which was literally an entire street that solely specializes in the crafting and selling of “botas,” though I convinced some old man to custom make some wallets for my dads (though one dad had his stolen from his car a week ago at a gas station in East Texas…so there’s that).

-I somehow agreed to go to a Guatemalan dance club with the girls. (I would like to use this time to state that I had never before been clubbing, nor did I entertain the idea of it. The closest thing I have come to was a dance party thrown by a Christian fraternity my freshman year of college that catered Capri-suns instead of alcohol and played a record scratch over all profanity that happened to come up in the songs). I agreed to go mainly because I am usually the mother of my friend group, and I saw no reason not to maintain my previous role with my new classmates. Plus also I like to dance. I cannot say however that I was shocked at the terrible experience which was full of obnoxious under-age Americans (and 30 minutes of my life in which I mentally checked box after box off my “why Americans are the worst” list).

-I would walk in the park after class only to remember that there are about 3,000 pigeons that live there, and that the town children like to feed the pigeons so that when innocent passerby’s happen to walk in the general vicinity of said pigeons they all fly up at the same time close enough that you can feel their wings on your cheeks and you can hear them laughing at you as you scream and run and attract the attention of all of the locals.

-I also had the pleasure to eat possibly the worst combination of foods in the entire world or possibly even the universe. If anyone tells you to put a pile of beets (yes, those purple things no one ever actually eats) on a tostada shell, then put raw onion rings on top, then put a boiled egg on top of that top- just order a pizza after your host family falls asleep. (If you would like to try and eat some to be polite just know that is tastes like feet. And also like sadness. And also that you can get a large pizza and cinnamon sticks for less than 20 bucks in Antigua).

When the week ended the girls and I decided to plan another weekend trip (because our previous one went so swimmingly), so we found some nearby ancient ruins and booked a tour.

We took a shuttle to Iximché, which upon arrival we discovered are only 15th century ruins and not “ancient” in the sense of the word that I was looking forward to. However, they still sacrificed people, namely enemies, to appease their flying snake deity, then they would leave the skulls on the altar to terrify all of their other enemies, so it was super worth it. Not that we got to see any real-life ancient skulls…but we did get to watch all of the people that didn’t have tour guides to tell them about the flying snake deity jump all over the altar taking pictures and bringing all of the ancient flying snake bad-juju on themselves, which was just as enjoyable.

I unfortunately do not have a picture of the altar (sans skulls it was a bit underwhelming) but enjoy this temple to the sun goddess.

When we got back to town we got to see a procession up-close.

(Like really up close).

Featuring praying and smoke and music and bombas and it was a great end to the week.

Side note: “Bombas” are something that I was warned about upon arrival to Antigua, but they turned out to be more of an issue than previously considered. The bombas are pretty much like fireworks, except without the fire or the ‘works.’ So not actually like fireworks. More like smoke. And a loud explosion sound. Then nothing. During all hours of the day.

You have to imagine the sound here. But imagine it like 100 guns firing off at once. Which was super pleasant around 5:30 every morning.

I learned a lot about photography from my professor, gave all of my clothes to strangers because apparently that’s how you have to do laundry (they gave them back, don’t worry. It just took a few days), I tried new foods and activities, woke up way earlier than desired, and planned the most epic trip of my whole life in which during week 3 I hiked a volcano at midnight.

Thanks again for your time and brain cells. Come back in a week to hear about the time I met a vampire, hiked over 12,000 feet in the dark, touched the clouds, and got stranded in two different cities I knew nothing about all in the span of 24 hours.

(Also, enjoy this picture of a kid on a motorcycle in case you didn’t believe me last week. I was unable to catch him actually driving it, but I imagine he was quite skilled).

(Also, here are the goats. They were walked and milked for people on the street every day. Literally milked in the middle of the street. Into styrofoam cups. Which were sold to people. Right there in the street. Dope).

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