Feb 11

Colombian Cultural Treasures: The Chicken Bus.

If you’re up for a little adventure at any time, and in most any part of Colombia, the cheapest and most reliable option is what Sarah gloriously calls Chicken buses – the little Collectivos that go anywhere and everywhere. Here are some of their most distinctive features:

* The first thing to do is to take yourself to the appopriate street (ask a local), and start peering desperately at the traffic, looking for your destination on the tiny, yet aesthecially pleasing, signs on the windshield.

* Once you’re aboard, drop your change (generally a fairly competitive $COP 1,500) into the hole in the window, and marvel at how the driver juggles driving, taking fares, giving change, and singing along to his salsa.

*If it’s a packed bus, you could be lucky enough to get on at the back door, and watch community in motion as fares are passed from the back of the bus to the front, and then change from the front to the back.

* You’ll probably make a friend or two. The sense of adventure generated by these little vehicles of joy brings people of all colours, codes and creeds together in a tight little temporary commuting community. Kindly folks sitting down will even hold your stuff for you while you’re standing up. Let them. Chicken buses are a world singing in perfect harmony. And it’s probably a salsa song.

Paul G.

26 thoughts on “Colombian Cultural Treasures: The Chicken Bus.

  1. Jessica on

    I have heard about these buses, would love to jump on one when I travel to Colombia next year 🙂


      Paul Giles on

      Jessica, you just have to! Maybe try to rope a local into your first couple of rides, until you get used to the ins and outs, but, then, go for gold! Unpredictable adventures and camaraderie await 🙂


    David Power on

    I enjoyed the positive slant Paul, although on a rainy rush hour I have been Dante himself, and I have seen all the circles…


      Paul Giles on

      Mr. Power; I have to concede that a completely different post could be written about this phenomenon; with “Abandon all hope ye who enter” as a possible title. Still, they’re always an adventure, that’s for sure. Chicken buses are like a quote from a mediocre Tom Hanks movie: you never know what you’re gunna get. Definitely worth the dollar admission.


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