Rolling with the Chicken Bus

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Most everyone who has spent time in central america has had the luxury of riding the local bus system, known fondly throughout all the region as the chicken bus. Look familiar? The majority are old American school buses- the ones you rode to school as a child. Little of the interior has changed, and for a second you might feel like you’ve gone back in time. Luckily the exterior is decked out with funky paint jobs and roof rails for your luggage (which at times said luggage may not actually make it to see the end of the trip, but such is the gamble of the chicken bus.). Call us crazy, but we actually enjoy a fixed amount of time on the local buses- there is always entertainment here.

The Rivas bus station- not too visually appealing

On our most recent encounter with the chicken bus, we trekked from San Juan Del Sur to Rivas, and from Rivas to Granada. We were lucky to experience the entire two hour ride standing up. Clinging to a metal bar bolted to the ceiling, we weaved through roads and swayed between the crowded seats with the other unfortunate people lined up in the aisle. I learned later, with sore muscles to prove it, that this practice works muscles in your legs and back that don’t otherwise get used for much else… The chicken bus muscles.

A cramped chicken bus with eager food vendors selling snacks

Our brief rest in Rivas- a small, gritty, town used by most only as a transit stop- brought with it some new surprises. Bus station street food is somewhat of a surprise here in Nicaragua. It’s all quite good, very creative, and something we’ve become drawn to exploring.

Convenient parcels of chicken and tortillas

We’ve enjoyed Casilla: fresh tortillas with thin disks of farmers cheese, crema, and slow grilled onions. We also gazed fondly at the ‘to go’ meal: plastic bags of marinated chicken, fried and wrapped in corn tortillas. For snacks, there were small disks of perfectly shaped sweet cookies, stick shaped crackers of sweet nuts, and bags of fresh cashews. The bus station itself might be torn up with debris, stray dogs, and decay, but there is no shortage in the creative culinary twists one can find during these stopovers.

Vendors sell quick meals at the Rivas bus station

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