Thursday, December 20, 2007

Chicken Bus IV

California! It's not just the name of one of my favorite chicken buses; it's also where the Holla staff is heading tomorrow for ten days or so. The internet being everywhere, as it is, we may be able to continue publishing, or we may not be back until the new year. Don't let the suspense ruin your holidays.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Chicken Bus III

Damn. Imagine waiting for your school bus, and what rolls up but ten tons of Bluebird steel, glistening blue with hot licks of orange flame all spitting up the hood. That would be sweet. Or at least, sweeter than plain yellow, and your correspondent would argue, for safety's sake, more visible, to absent-minded drivers sharing the road.

On the other hand, maybe the puberty-stricken boys of the back seats of the bus would prefer the following take on the traditional "reclining busty lady" image of a million chicken buses and mud flaps: the "in full flight busty Superwoman" image.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Chicken Bus II

Chicken buses are the primary means of inter-city travel for the non-car-owning majority of Guatemalans. In one (possibly apocryphal) tale, somebody found the term "chicken bus" offensive, and as a result the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala, when warning people to think twice before riding on them, refers to them only as "recycled U.S. school buses." Once they don't meet U.S. age or safety requirements, these school buses are sold at auction, driven overland to Guatemala, and given a little bling. As you can see in the bus to the right of this picture, many are pressed into service before they can get the full extreme makeover treatment. The U.S. flag is a common, if puzzling, motif in chicken bus decor, as seen here on the "Santa Fe."

Monday, December 17, 2007

Chicken Bus I

Or, perhaps, the "After" to last week's "Before." Chicken Bus photos galore coming this week, for all you fans of public transportation.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


So that's it. We drove from Guatemala City to Colorado to Boston to Washington, and lived to tell about it. It was a whirlwind tour. The next day we started learning Latvian, and not much has changed since then.

The photo editor has piles of material from Guatemala, so as of the next entry we'll be reclaiming the Guatemala Holla title and going back to the land of eternal spring.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Of New York City, Part the Third and Last, or "Before"

I guess even the kids out in Coney Island have to go to school, too.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Of New York City, Part the Second

So we went to Coney Island. It's a lot like a lot of other boardwalk-attraction east-coach beach places. Except, it's Coney Island, and two-and-a-half centuries of New-York-centric American writers and filmmakers have ingrained it's name in our collective mind. Well, at least the ones who wrote or film-made after Coney Island was built.

So they have this thing, pictured above, that I think I saw referred to as the "Parachute Drop" but I still don't get what that means.

More in your correspondent's realm of understanding was the Wonder Wheel, which is fun and pregnant-lady calm, and the Cyclone, which we rode but declined to ride twice. It is not good for the spinal column, which I guess is half the fun. Your correspondent also stood in line for half an hour to eat a Nathan's Hot Dog. Yes, your correspondent is retarded.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Of New York City, Part the First

So, after parting ways with our beloved Nissan, your correspondents began the final leg of the trip, Latvian classes beckoning but not before a final long weekend in New York. Our friends there have recently moved from the distant suburb of "Brooklyn" to the heart of Manhattan. The hallways in their building had funny angles.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

In Memoriam

After our stop in Prairie Dog Town, we zipped over to St. Louis and stayed with friends there, and found their little pocket of St. Louis to be quite nice. Then we sped over to Louisville for lunch, a sad suburb of Cleveland for dinner, an evening of camping near Erie, Pennsylvania, and a mid-day arrival in Acton, Massachusetts. Nothing of note happened.

However, in Acton, we picked up the new official staff vehicle, and parted ways with the trusty baby-blue 1997 Nissan Sentra that had been serving all our automotive needs since 1998 or so. In that time, this amazing little piece of Japanese engineering drove across the country at least four times, hitting the highways of no fewer than 43 of these United States, not to mention five foreign countries. It endured no small amount of abuse from the ice of New England, the double-track trailhead access roads of the American West, the towering highway speed bumps of Mexico, and nearly every crater-pocked mile of Guatemala's urban and rural thoroughfares. This little economy car bounced across roads that would make 99% of American SUV owners slowly shift into reverse and head back to Starbucks, tail between legs.

We don't say that to boast about our departed companion. We only mention it in tribute, because it's the truth. Here's a map that proves it (well, sort of), the trips your correspondents happen to remember right now marked in blue:

(While representatives of Nalgene are apparently still mulling over their response to my unsolicited testimonial regarding their fine products, the Holla would welcome any similar monetary considerations from the good people of Nissan. Don't be shy!)