The Bus

A word on the bus.

The bus is the easiest and most affordable way of getting around Belize if you don’t have a vehicle. They stop in most towns, and are the way a lot of folks travel. They are publicly-owned schoolbuses with no air conditioning and sticky plastic seats. They run every hour and sometimes every half-hour, depending on where you are and what day it is. Surprisingly, they often stick to schedule. Basically, they get you where you need to go.

I have ridden the bus many times between San Ignacio, Belmopan, and Belize City. It’s always a thing. First of all, it’s mad hot. Depending on the time of day, it can be crowded. Like, super-tight with people standing in the aisle and leaning all over you and squeezing past at every stop so closely that it almost feels like a violation. Except it’s not. It’s just what’s happening because everyone is trying to get somewhere. And no one freaks out or starts yelling because ain’t nobody got time for that. I’m always thrilled when I can catch an “express” bus that goes non-stop because it shaves off half an hour from the ride. And the person who goes up and down collecting the fare always seems to remember who got on and off. It’s really impressive.

There’s also the whole music thing. Often, when the bus leaves San Ignacio the driver is playing some kind of Spanish music. Sometimes it’s the Jesus station, which is weird. But when the bus gets to Belmopan and all the black folks get on going to Belize City, the music gets real Caribbean. And if you’re lucky, the vendors who get on the bus during the 5-minute wait will have the good snacks – coconut tart or johnny cake. There are stands inside the bus terminal where you can buy water and sodas, but you risk getting left so folks who get off the bus for that return seconds later heaving and sweating.

Aside from the general discomfort, which isn’t really that big of a deal, I don’t mind riding the bus. It kind of reminds me of riding the train in New York – annoying but effective. When it’s just sitting and it’s hot and I’m pouring sweat it sucks, but when it’s moving, it’s moving and the breeze is almost refreshing. The ride between Belmopan and Belize City isn’t very nice, scenically. It’s just a lot of savanna and swamp and nothing really to look at, until you’re almost at the terminal and you can get a peek of the sea in the distance. But the ride between Belmopan and San Ignacio actually has a lovely view, green and lush with a backdrop of mountains. So lovely that I usually just look out the window during my ride instead of reading something or playing on my phone, because it’s just beautiful and it’s an awesome reminder of where I live and how amazing nature is.

Today I rode the bus to my meeting in Belmopan. It was mid-day so I got a seat by myself. The driver was playing reggae and pulled out of town early. The sky was clear and the kids in their school uniforms were in a good mood because it’s Friday and a holiday weekend and they had a little change to buy rainbow shaved ice and Coca-Colas from the vendor out of the window. I don’t take pictures on the bus because it’s not really my style and I’m not trying to be that person hanging out of the window with my camera, but today I thought of making this post and took one, low-key:

Go ‘head, kid.

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