A Saturday morning saw Yolkobsens striking off via chicken bus to Santa Maria de Jesus Guatemala, a highland pueblo about 25 minutes south of Antigua Guatemala.
We set off from the Antigua Guatemala bus terminal, which is right next to the main marketplace, a clamorous arena with plenty of heart and lots and lots of people, many of them women with what would seem impossible loads of goods and food perfectly balanced on their heads.
At first we were disappointed that our destination meant we would not be on a rollicking good-time chicken bus with an exceeding surplus of chrome and vibrant paint. Instead, we were directed to a12-passenger van, in this instance a mono-chromed fourth or fifth-hand, many times “previously loved” model.
Disappointment melted immediately when we got in and found the majority of passengers were Maya women, almost all of them with large bouquets of flowers sitting in their laps. The van was redolent with the scent of chrysanthemums. I sat in the back seat, Mr. Y in the front with the driver so as to take better pix and videos. He’s incurable.
We headed off but when we got to the Santa Lucia Church, a minute away on the Alameda de Santa Lucia, the driver stopped the van, bolted across the busy street and started berating a traffic cop. It seems he was irate that he had received a sort of traffic or parking ticket at some point in the recent or near-recent past. His debate with the law lasted about ten minutes. At it’s highest tide, the fracas attracted a total of 12 police offers of various ranks circling the driver while he brayed into his cell phone. (I guess all the major drug cartel criminals had been rounded up so that the local constabulary had time and man power to focus on a plea for mercy from a traffic/parking ticket holder. I dunno.)
More interesting than the driver’s determination was our fellow-passenger’s response. Now, in Toronto or Chicago, this kind of delay would have caused the riders to start yelling something like, “Let’s go! Come on aw-ready. I’m a very busy and important middle class person on my way to my tick-tock job at the nail factory, which I HATE!! So let’s get there before I blow a head valve.” I’m sure you’ve commuted with this sort.
Instead, what did our new-found pals in the stalled van do? They started to laugh and the longer the van driver argued the funnier they found it. Gringo and Guatemalan alike were now united according to the universal law of the shared chuckle. They became especially merry when Mr. Y started to take pix of the comedy performance that came at no extra charge. Better than any in-flight movie I’ve ever seen.
Eventually, either the cops lost interest or the driver was persuasive or defeated. In any event, he ran back, gunned the engine and we resumed our black-smoke belching way to Santa Maria de Jesus Guatemala, altitude about 6,800 feet. Plenty of time. As we say in Canada, “Guatever, eh?”