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Sweet Ride

Thursday, December 15th, 2005

First of all, it is important for me to point out that most of the vehicles plying the roads here are fully functional, new or almost new, completely at home on the streets of any country.

However, there are some exceptional rides that are worth noting. Cars rolling along with major body parts missing or held on with chewing gum, trucks spewing out baseball-sized chunks of diesel (not really, but it sure smells like it), vehicles propelled mostly by animals, etc.

I would like to share some of these special rides here.

Up first is a ride very close to my heart. It combines my love of things that roll with my love of hammocks. I once had a friend in DC who hung a hammock in his efficiency apartment. I am still trying to figure out how to do that in our apartment. In the meantime, the guy in the back of this tractor-trailer is my kind of people. Amigo, that is one sweet ride.

My peeps

Commentary on the following pictures coming up soon.

barato mobile



chicken boos

This is a bus in Guatemala. If you ask someone where the “cheekin boos” is, they will point you to one of these. They appear to be imported from the US. School systems often replace their buses every few years. They have to go somewhere. So the buses head south and become a popular form of local, and sometimes cross-country transport. If you haven’t guessed, they get their name because people actually carry chickens on the bus. Chickens, little piggies, goats, horses, elephants, anything you can squeeze through the door. The drivers don’t realize the buses are limited by pesky laws of physics, so they push these machines to their limits. Each time I saw one in the rearview mirror I would try and outrun it and keep it from passing. Their diesel exhaust is often nasty. Each time, they would pass us leaving us in a cloud of black spew. Sometimes they don’t wait for the nicety of a safe passing area, choosing instead to risk the lives of all aboard and scream around a blind curve, not knowing if a tractor trailer was coming from the other direction.

tuk tuk

My Spanish teacher in Guatemala asked me if I knew the name of this little three-wheeled scooter. I guessed it was the same as in Thai, which is “tuk tuk”. He was very impressed with my extensive Spanish vocabulary. Strange, but the only Latin American places we saw these scooter/trikes was in Guatemala.


This family shows that you don’t really need a Hummer for a family of 4.

crotch rockets

Maybe there is a connection between the killer chicken buses and super-fast motorcycles freely roaming the streets of Guatemala.


This appears to be the remains of an early 70s Dodge Duster we saw still in active service in Mexico. As far as we can tell, Costa Rica is the only Central American country with motor vehicle safety and emissions inspections. We passed an inspection station that was surrounded with a high fence topped with barbed-wire. Perhaps some people are not happy about keeping their vehicles in working order.

our Ford Explorer

Our Ford as we crossed the border from Mexico to Guatemala.

Mad Max meets the police

A police truck in Lima, Peru.