Adventures in Guatemala

These are the craziest roads. Each seat is crammed with three people; we twist and turn through the hills of Guatemala at a speed faster than I am comfortable with. It is like constantly playing the corners game; hold on so you don’t fall off your seat, brace as your momentum attempts to carry you into the aisle.

My knees are jammed against the metal piece in front of me, the back of which says, “Blue Bird” – is that the company that made the bus? Perhaps. There is a sign that says “Canadian Blue Bird” above the front door.

Is there a better way to travel than immersion? Undoubtedly, this is both the cheapest and most efficient.

Do what locals do. Eat their food. Follow their customs. Wear their clothes. Try, and fail to speak their language. Take their buses.

Maybe I feel a little nauseous. Maybe a local advised me to take a plastic bag with me just in case. Maybe it is not the most comfortable. But it is good. So, so good.

Break neck speeds. Twists and turns. Ups and downs.

It is exciting. Interesting. Exhilarating. It makes me feel alive. I love living like this.

Welcome to the Adventure.

I believe we need more of it in our lives. More of the new and thrilling. We need to step out of our comfort zones and imagined boxes, and step out into the unknown. Great things reside in the unknown, waiting for us to discover and experience them.

The assistant runs to catch up and jumps back on the bus like he does it every day – effortlessly. He must do this for a living.

We pass a broken down bus, engine exposed. I pray that we do not end up like that, stuck on the side of a mountain waiting for someone to help. I wonder if our driver is a good mechanic.

I grab the metal bar with both hands to keep from slamming into the man seated next to me. When we clear the line of stopped vehicles the bus goes careening down, now clear of the blockage.

We pass another chicken bus. Back and forth, we wind down the mountain. The elevation affects me and the air is brisk. Cold, fresh air is better than hot and stagnant, any day. I’ve been on enough busses to know this is preferable, so I’m thankful.

Certainly, travel like this is a novelty. I sit and wonder as the foreign foliage rushes past. I wonder what it would be like on this bus every day. Going to and from school. Between home and work.

The winding, gorgeous countryside – does it become commonplace after enough sightings? Do the people acknowledge the extravagant beauty of this place on a daily basis? I hope they notice, because I am blown away by it.

Guate! Guate! Guate! The man yells out the window as we slow to pass groups of people gathered on the side of the street. If someone boards, the driver gives him or her the moment necessary to step onto the bus before racing away. If not, the driver up-shifts and continues.

The journey from Santa Cruz del Quiche to Antigua is in two parts; one must take a bus from Quiche towards Guatemala City, get off in Chimaltenango, then board a separate bus from Chima to Antigua. Simple enough, straightforward, and inexpensive. The whole trip costs less than five U.S. dollars.

I’m thankful for this trip because I know that monotone, dull, tedious existence is unfulfilling. We can get caught up in nine-to-five jobs and success-ladder climbing. We easily can waste away, as the days and hours blur without distinction. Somehow, we fail to notice it is even happening.

But what we need is an escapade, an exploit – to re-start our soul, to captivate our senses, to expand our understanding.

Adventure might look differently to others. Today, for me, adventure looks like traveling in Guatemala. It is an unfamiliar escapade with unique sights, and sounds, and tastes.  

It could look like playing with the neighborhood kids. Or taking a weekend trip to somewhere new. Maybe it is going to a restaurant you have never been to before. Perhaps it is as simple as asking your coworkers over for a home-cooked meal. Or it could be skydiving. Or quitting your job to follow your dreams.

Do the unusual and exciting and daring things that call for enterprise and enthusiasm.

Whatever it looks like, test your boundaries.

If you want, head to Guatemala and take a chicken bus. Sometimes, it is exactly what we need.

What adventure, big or small can you take today? Where can you step out of your comfort zone?

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