After taking only shuttles from hostel to hostel, today I venture out on the chicken bus for the first time on this trip. It was a test of my Spanish and street smarts.
The mission was to take public transport aka the chicken bus to Juaya, a town about 3 hours out. I would need to take a bus to San Salvador, then transfer to a bus to Sonsonate, then take a final bus to Juaya.
On the first leg to San Salvador, the driver dropped me off 4 blocks from the bus terminal. Without actual directions I ask everyone on the road where to go. I was slowly picking up the Spanish words as people spoke. It felt good to be trapped without any English speakers. My brain was getting a good linguistic exercise.
On the second leg I learn about the true nature of the chicken bus. When I got on the bus to Sonsonate, I made the mistake of sitting in the aisle seat instead of the window seat. Everything was ok at first, but as the bus ride continued on, more and more people started to pack on the bus. About half way into the ride the bus was packed full, with people crammed in the aisle. One big woman was stuck next to me. While I sat, she stood next to me. Her belly was right on the side of my head. For the next hour I had to endure the jelly of her belly bouncing on my head every time the bus hit a bump. And there were many bumps.