SOMEWHERE, Guatemala- 7 hours was the time it took to ride a Fuente del Norte bus from Rio Dulce, Guatemala to San Salvador.
That was six weeks ago.
Now it seems as if I have been sitting in a traffic jam for around three hours — a traffic jam out in the middle of nowhere:
The highway is narrow grade but packed full of pickup trucks, buses, and tractor trailers. Nobody is moving.
We hit a standstill, my sense of motion has been rattled. From San Salvador up to the east of Guatemala the bus flew at top speed — we were just beginning to plan for an early arrival. Then BAM, we hit a wall of traffic.
There are no towns anywhere near where the bus came to a standstill, no intersections, no nothing except a long, straight, and perilously narrow highway.
“There was an accident up ahead,” we were told.
Bus transportation times in Guatemala — or anywhere else in the world — are never reliable. There are too many variables between here and there to ever EXPECT anything. Arrival times are always mere projections, they can never be depended on.
The bus will arrive when it arrives, this is the only rule of overland travel. If I am in a bus that arrives on time I invariably become surprised — “wow, we made it on time.” I usually expect problems, delays, road blocks, traffic jams, accidents, mechanical malfunctions, roads washed away, mudslides covering highways, impasses, closed roads, wait time.
When I am on a bus that suddenly grinds to a halt from going full speed, I shrug — it is what I expect to happen.
Bus transport is never reliable. This is a part of the great lure of overland travel: you never know what will come on the road ahead.