|Emy Louie, Consulting Services|
|Emy Louie, Consulting Services|
Of all the things I have read and experienced about Nicaragua, chicken bus transportation will continue to be a challenge. I have yet to know if things will get better on the chicken buses of Nicaragua. I will let you know when travel on them gets dramatically better for me.
Three Classes of Ground Transportation
For every ground transportation route in Nicaragua, there are at least three major classes of travel.
For example, I am a petite woman. I can handle cramped third-class transportation, so I take the chicken bus in Nicaragua if I am not tired, I am not in a total rush, and I do not have a lot of items to take with me.
The Bumpy Chicken Bus
I know I have heard Americans complain about bumpy chicken bus rides; however, I find chicken bus transportation to be healthy! It's healthy because in order not to be too jostled around in a chicken bus, you need to tighten those abdominal muscles! Yes, a chicken bus is good for core muscles strengthening! Trampoline workouts, officially called “rebounding” is the healthiest exercise one can do. “Rebounding” activates all the cells in your body! Well, that's what chicken buses help you to do.
Think again when you take a chicken bus!
So when I was back in the United States, I went jogging and realized I was already well exercised from riding chicken buses two weeks prior in Central America.
Minimize being a target of theft.
In and around a chicken bus, don't talk boisterously in a foreign language such as English. Don't draw more attention to yourself than you already are. By the mere fact you are a foreigner, the locals are watching you. Watch your belongings.
Don't be afraid to ask for directions from the person sitting next to you. I found when I ask any adult on the bus; they have answered my questions. Listen to the Spanish around you. Say “Por favor…Gracias,” and “Disculpe.” Those three words are lifesavers!
Please don’t confuse personal safety with thievery or swindling. How many times in your life have you felt you paid too much for something, without your knowledge, and at the same time, you felt completely safe? On the chicken buses, there may be more females than males on the bus, and there are usually a few children and seniors on the bus. Catching the chicken bus can feel like a family event! So whatever happens, there will be a lot of witnesses. If there is any crime, the crime will be practically unnoticeable, quick and professional.
In nature, there are predators all around. A bus terminal is no different than wild nature. You are a thief’s prey.
Chances are, if there many people around, the place is entirely safe because there are way too many eyes on everyone else. Furthermore, if you physically stand out from the larger crowd, you can be sure all eyes are on you.
How to Behave
Above all, rule number one--be respectful. Being respectful will get you out of everything, no matter what the language or custom. Be respectful in mind and Spirit, not outward gestures which can be fake gestures that lack underlying respect.
A friend of mine called this behavior, pretentious behavior. The locals can easily spot pretentious behavior.
Real respect comes from a sense of humbleness.
I believe by the time a westerner arrives in Nicaragua; they are humble. You have to be humble to travel to Nicaragua.
The Toilets at Bus Terminals
Also, regarding the bustling activities, these bus terminals are very similar to any train station anywhere else in the world. There are a lot of people walking in every direction. There is likely food around. More importantly, there should be a relatively clean restroom nearby—perhaps the toilet is not up to Western standards. The bathroom may be dimly lit and cramped. It will be clean nonetheless because you are paying a small fee to get into the restroom.
Because of this bustling factor, as a newcomer, you are much better off if you were at this bus terminal during daylight hours for obvious reasons. Everything can be seen easier in the daylight.
In contrast to third class travel, I can tell you renting a car in Costa Rica on two separate occasions cost easily 100 times more than taking the chicken bus. The rental car, after upgrades, insurance, taxes and other fees, could cost 100 United States dollars a day, and then we drive to tourist traps. The prices escalate there. For that same trip, if I took the chicken bus, the transportation costs would be five dollars a day. You get what I'm saying. By the time you have read up to here, you should have traveled around to other foreign countries outside of the United States. If you are on a small budget in many places outside of the United States, renting a car will kill your budget.
And perhaps in Nicaragua, doing even "cheap" tourist transportation may kill your budget. 20 dollars here. 20 dollars there. That's forty dollars which is enough money for two weeks of local food in Nicaragua!