Buses in Central America are not like in Britain, you don’t form an orderly queue waiting to pay the driver and then take a seat and the bus tends to leave at a scheduled time, not waiting until it is totally crammed. As anywhere buses can vary greatly, we went on air conditioned coaches which showed movies dubbed in Spanish in Mexico, however, at the other end of the scale we went on colectivos in Guatemala which practically had people sitting on other’s laps. In Belize the buses were mainly old American school buses. These could be a bit of a challenge to get on at times especially with our bags, as we found in Belmopan, the capital. This was our first experience of getting on the bus in the late afternoon as well as on a Sunday and not one I’d like to repeat. In order that others might be prepared, here’s our story! I’m not saying that it will always be like this, but it’ll be good to know for the occasions when it will be.
After tubing on the way out of Belize City we arranged a lift to the bus station in Belmopan. Getting to the bus terminal we found a queue of people waiting for our bus onward to San Ignacio. Though a number of buses came and went to Belize City and Dangriga we waited about 40 mins before our bus arrived. At which point the mass of people waiting surged forward – anyone who has flown Ryanair will recognise it. That said, usually they have a loud stewardess in blue polyester to maintain some kind of order. Knowing the best bet of getting our bags on was at the back we headed there with a number of other people with packages. Everyone pushed and shoved in order to get on and the bus was soon full before we’d even figured how to get the bags on, let alone ourselves.
We got back into the terminal and found we were going to be waiting another hour before the next bus came. This time we were closer to the front but after having waited an age we didn’t want to miss this bus as well. So when the bus came we ran round the back and I shoved my bag on, due to the people still trying to get off I couldn’t get on to move my bag out of the way but this didn’t stop someone shoving a bag over my head and climbing on my boyfriend Iain’s arm and head. I decided the only way to stop this was to clamber up in the doorway to prevent anyone else doing the same. Once the bus had cleared Iain passed the rest of the bags up and got on, luckily we managed to get on this bus!
My tips on getting on this bus is to forget being British and just go for it, choose your strategy to prevent everyone from climbing over you. No matter how polite and friendly Belizeans have been (and they have been very friendly), this is the one occasion where it’s everyone for themselves so leave the niceties behind. I’m sure it’s been a good learning experience for the ‘chicken buses’ we’ll experience further south.