The Magic Bus

Clark March 22nd, 2008

Still can’t upload any photos, and I’ve got some good ones.

Life is sweet here at the Marina Puesta del Sol, but it’s in the middle of nowhere. To get to a place where I could do any provisioning this morning, I took the bus two hours to Chinandengo, the Big Smoke. I got on the bus at 7AM and we began winding our way through the farmlands and shantytowns of northern Nicaragua in a cloud of dust. By the time we got to Chinandengo it was standing room only, several of the babies had messed their diapers, and the chickens were starting to squawk.

The bus was an old American school bus, the kind we’ve all ridden. It was manufactured by the Blue Bird Body Co. in Fort Valley, Georgia, and the bus had ‘Hampshire County Schools’ stenciled on the side, which I now see is in Massachusetts.

During my two-hour bus ride I started wondering, how do these retired school busses get from the US to Nicaragua? Perhaps there is this crack team of Nicaraguan drivers who fly to the US with a credit card and a big bag of the highest quality…dark roast Nicaraguan coffee. They explode out of the district depot in Massachusetts, blaze through New England, cross the prairie, tear through the cornfields of Kansas and the Texas badlands, crossing the border at Juaraz and paying whatever bribes they have to. They don’t even stop the bus to change drivers: one just slides under the other and takes over. Meanwhile the off duty shift has made a camp among the seats where they brew strong pots of coffee and cook Nicaraguan comfort food on a portable stove. They sail through the Chihuahuan desert, fly through the perifericos of Mexico City under cover of darkness, wind their way through the jungles of Oaxaca and Chiapas, then cross the Guatemala border, all the while the 35-year-old diesel keeps revving without complaint. They go past Lago Atitlan, through Guatemala City on the Panamericana, cut the corner through Honduras, and into the home stretch into the bus’s new home in Nicaragua…all in 112 hours.

I got to asking around and it’s nothing so romantic. They ship the busses on a barge from one of the gulf states to Puerto Cortez, on the Atlantic side. Then they bring them to Managua, where there’s sort of a school bus used car lot.

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Comment by Harry and Jane
2008-04-02 14:55:29

Hi, Clark, very glad to hear that you are on your way to CA and have completed the BIG CIRCLE!!! Fantastic indeed. Tried to email you yesterday on Sailmail, but no joy. We are back in USA helping Jane’s parents to pack up and move to Jacksonville, FL. Having some time before the actual move, we are at Charleston AFB hoping to catch a flight to Rota Naval Base, Spain tomorrow for a vacation. Even cruisers need a vacation, eh? Your website is fantastic, as we have previously told you. Cormorant in at Rebak Marina, Malaysia, and perhaps we can swing through so. CA on our way back in mid-May if you are there by then. Wishing you good cruising. Harry and Jane

Comment by Bianca
2008-04-06 09:35:51

dude. leading a very busy existance at the time (it’s nice for a change!).

i’ll drop an email soon, i just don’t want to write it in a rush. love, j.

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