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Riding the CA-9

Tim Foster, 2017

Riding in an 'air-conditioned' Guatemalan bus. This is a step up from the Litegua or Fuente del Norte. It's small but zippy. And most importantly: it stops when you say you need to pee (or need to chug a frosty Dorada Ice)! And mostly does not leave without you. Mostly.

There's no flow of traffic on these highways. Stop and go. From one double-parked freight truck to a homeless dog straddling the roadway evenly in each direction. It's check stop, go. Speed bump, go. Random pointless stop, go. I suppose the key is that it always gets going again. It's like falling off a horse. And getting back on again, of course.

The seedy air conditioning works in intervals of 30 minutes. With equally frequent 30 (+) minute breaks. Don't want to exhaust the engine. It's hot out here, don't ya know? And absolutely sweltering in here.

With the windows down, a breeze gets rolling. The vacant smells of cow dung waft though the absent panes. Emerging first on the left and quickly taking the place of sweat-soaked gringo air. Ah, the smells of nature.

We pass another small town with tiendas littering the highway. Of course, the signature 'Pepsi blue' occupies the exterior of some of the shops. It gets into the mountains. Deep in there, I've been told. Where water is a feat to obtain. But the Pepsi, the Coca-Cola, they have the reach. Not exactly surprising.

Oh, tangents.

Passing another small town, familiar Guatemalan smells greet me. Burning garbage, smells dangerously delicious. I don't exactly agree with the process, but can't fight the unintentional effect. Not from this bus, anyway.

The smell of sewage, that roams freely through the streets. Here, it hasn't rained in a long time - you can tell. You can tell because the garbage huddles up in every nook and cranny. There is nowhere, nowhere in Guatemala this garbage won't reach. And just like that, the air conditioning takes its leave. The sun, streaming through the window, aids in the creation of a 13-person sauna. My skin is radiant; I hope it likes the detox.

And just like that, the windows are open again. A cycle to be continued for another 2 hours, at least. Mesmerizing.

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