A little tardy but never really late, just like a chicken bus


Remember that feeling...? You knew it so well once upon a time. On the way home from 3rd grade, with summer vacation just a day away, those vinyl seats heated up on the slow trip while you compared your Garbage Pail Kids cards with your best friend. As you stood up to get off at your stop, the skin on the backs of your legs stuck to that sticky hot vinyl that seemed to sweat itself.

I almost forgot that feeling. And the way it felt to push the buttons towards one another on

 those ridiculously difficult-to-maneuver windows to get a little airflow. Sitting on the chicken bus heading out of Granada, I am definitely feeling vinyl seat sweaty sticky legs, and also a little like a clueless and awkward 3rd grader (perhaps i discovered the fountain of youth too). As a (mostly) functioning adult I should be able to easily make sure I get from point A to point B and back again. But this is difficult to do when the language spoken is beautiful to my ears but doesnt translate through my thick, English-speaking head. Other than a few basic phrases. Such a doce. (hey, its simple but at least I know how much to pay for my fare, roughly 10cents in US dollars. Take note, Light Rail.) And muchas gracias (I say that a lot. Since I understand the phrase,  like to use it as much as possible). 


Thankfully, that morning I was going to the end of the line and didnt have to figure out all that much on the bumbling ride to Masaya. We arrived at a dusty, enormous parking lot and without too much trouble, I made my way through the hectic public market where everyone wanted to sell me everything, to the artisans market (aka, tourist market) for the last of my souvenir shopping. 

Now on the bus again, after a long day of picking out hammocks and vases, I'm mesmerized by the hummingly frenetic, calming chaos of the market that floats through the window... the harsh smells of raw chicken and fresh cheese that have been sitting out on a table in the sun all day mix with the aroma of fresh baked breads and pasteries, and nose-tingly exhaust and sweat. Men and women call to the passersby with their great deals on sparkly plastic sandals, avocados nearly the size of my head, and rice and beans that overflow from gigantic bags. Women with baskets on top of their heads filled with baggies of some sort of pink juice negotiate the crowds and weave through men with trolleys carting all sorts of goods for sale back and forth. Somehow all of this chaos works. 

Hard working women wearing frilly, dainty aprons that are the market sellers standard, come through the front door of the bus, baskets on heads to sell their juice baggies and candy and breads jumping out the escape exit at the back after they've sold all they can. The bus slowly, slowly fills as we wait for departure. I am filled with happiness over all the crazy hubbub (maybe it was the nica libre at lunch). I'm also sad that I'm leaving all of this to go home tomorrow.

Memories from the trip run like a movie through my head and mix with the scenes of the market as I look out my window, until...

Suddenly, I'm distracted by the man in the seat across the aisle from me getting up with a loud rustle. As I turn towards him, I notice his red, plastic grocery sack. It has a chicken in it. The head coming out one end, and the fluffy tail out the other. A live chicken! In a plastic bag! On the bus! It turns it's head and stares it's beady chicken eyes at me. Surely it didn't know its upcoming fate; it actually looked quite content being in that red grocery sack.

The man and chicken exit the bus just as the driver turns it on with a phffwump of exhaust out the back. As we bumble through the dirt parking lot on my last chicken bus ride, my heart feels a little heavy over leaving Nica. Until I realize I've picked the wrong side of bus. I stick like glue to my seat, with the afternoon sun blazing through my window.