“There’s no way this is the last bus, it’s only 3:30.” I tell Cody. Sometimes I’m glad they don’t understand English. “He’s just trying to get us on the bus; we’ll get a later one. Cody’s not convinced and in the end the man wins and we climb aboard. The bus is packed as normal and the only seats left are in the way back. Should have gone through the back door I think as we squeeze past another aisle. We sit, both exhausted from the same things; sun and amoebas. Both leave you weak and tired, but the amoebas make you nauseous too.

Not much time passes before a man climbs in the bus and hits the driver seat. He’s taller than most Guatemalans. He was hunched a little when he got on, but looked like he could have been easily 6 foot. He starts the engine immediately with a roar. Revving the engine he looks outside once more before impatiently slamming on the gas to get going. The large mirror on buses above the driver that allow him to see everybody also allows me to see him. He has a light hair around the sides of his head and barely a few wisps on the top. I can only see half his face, but it’s in a scowl with thin eyebrows and I would sear I can see a flare of red in his eyes. As we accelerate to about 60 still within city limits I’m convinced that El Diablo himself has decided to drive our bus today.

Quickly we are out of town and he is weaving in and out of traffic on the mountain road. Going uphill doesn’t slow him as we pass a Pepsi truck at probably 3 times the speed. He smoothly shifts, grabs the air horn, and weaves back into the correct lane. Only to stay in the lane for a second as he approaches a pickup that doesn’t meet his approval. For the first few miles we seem to spend more time in the left lane than in the right. I can’t complain, I think, we’ll get home before dark this way. We continue through the forest until the trees on the left drop off and the inside of the bus lights up from the low sun. As we veer into the left lane to pass another vehicle, I realize we are above an incredible gorge. Still looking out the window I’m not ready for the sharp turn the bus suddenly makes. The curve must be a hairpin and we must still be near 50 or 60 miles an hour. The tires scream in protest, but the driver pulls the wheel harder and slams the gas in response. At the angle we are at we must be close to being on two wheels. Everyone is thrown over to the left side which seems to make the bus lean more. If there was a guardrail it has long since been wiped out by drivers like ours. Being next to the window, I look the couple hundred feet down the large ravine, but don’t see any old carcasses of buses. Maybe that’s a good sign, but maybe I just can’t see them. The bus rights itself with another wail of protest and the driver responds by sounding the air horn as we pass another bus not going fast enough.

We continue along the Pan-American and try to become accustomed to the sharp air horn every time we pass someone. I try to sleep a little, but the bus jerks too much, which doesn’t help the nausea. The driver motions to his assistant pointing to the door. The assistant doesn’t hesitate and climbs out the door and using the window on to the roof rack. It takes a bit of guts to climb onto a bus while it’s moving 40 miles an hour. Although maybe it’s just fear for the one giving the order. The bus doesn’t gradually slow down, but instead comes to a screeching halt at the side of the road. People are already on their feet piling off the bus. Luggage is flying down from the top rack as fast as people are getting off. It’s chaos with some passengers trying to get off, some dealing with the luggage, and some trying to get on the bus. Again impatient, the driver starts moving before everyone has fully gotten on. Luggage is still coming off the back end of the bus to people in the streets. …

A man with no legs below his knee climbs aboard. He wears a leather pad similar to a knee pad to walk on. Then using his hands he almost walks like a quadruped. Most people would have a little compassion and give the man a few extra moments to get on, but the driver doesn’t blink an eye as he revs the engine in impatience.

Going around another curve the backdoor randomly flies open, the bus still fairly packed, the people in the aisle…

Running behind the bus trying to catch up and grab the back ladder.