I was actually a bit nervous about taking the chicken bus from Granada to Rivas. Would I manage to transfer and find my way to the town St. Jorge to catch the right ferry which would bring me to the island Ometepe? Up until now, I had solely enjoyed the convenience of small minibuses as transport vehicles. Hostels made it so easy to book right from their receptions for the most part. Also these minibuses had proven to be a fast way of moving forwards, plus I felt secure. However, only taking the easy route obviously comes at the price to miss out on a few different adventures and minibuses come with a bit of expense. If you compare to London prices, it was still very cheap though. I think they wanted around 12$ for the minibus ride from Granada to Rivas compared to 2$ for the chicken bus. So I went for the cheaper option and my own little adventurer who goes for the real adventure was running around in circles, jumping around.
I walked down a couple of blocks and asked around for the way to the bus station. Eventually I found a muddy, wider ally where some guys were hanging out around two old US school buses. I raised my voice to ask them if one of the buses would be going to Rivas and one guy was pointing to one of the buses. Actually, it had the direction written on it as well. I climbed on board.
A couple of people were already sitting on these cute little US school bus benches, oh excuse me it's no longer a school bus but a chicken bus. Wondering if I ever sat on a real US bus during my exchange student era in Indiana, part of me was sure to remember the familiar look but my memory was nebulous, maybe I watched too many movies. I took a seat, secured my big backpack in the cabin on the top of my seat and enjoyed the comfort of my first level of accomplishment: making it into the bus!! I was a bit early but safe.
A few minutes later a woman entered the bus, selling some of her goodies from the market. I found it so interesting how people sense other people's needs. It's all the same in the world. If you go on a journey, you may get hungry and want to enjoy some snacks. I've never seen it back in Europe that people were able to feed into this need to such an extend as here in the bus in Nicaragua. Ladies were walking through the bus to sell. You only had to decide in an instant that you wanted a bag of freshly made banana chips right then and there. Back in Europe you would likely need to go to a shop or gas station. Your effort would be much higher. Guess what, I clearly opted for this deliciously looking banana bag, pateta to be more precise.
As the chicken bus started rolling, it was quite filled up. A woman with a small girl had settled in the seat in front of me. They struggled to open the window. The driver had turned on some happy Latin tunes and smiled into the big rear mirror from time to time. So yeah, the ride should last 2 or 3 hours and after a while I fell into a monotonous trance of looking out the window, observing the beautiful landscape, occasional fields which were covered in water due to heavy overnight showers. I watched people getting dropped of wherever they wanted and others getting onboard. Then I fell asleep.
At the chicken bus station in Rivas the typical hassle was awaiting, taxi and various aspiring drivers getting tourists for their rides. I turned towards the English couple which was sitting behind me on the bus and we decided to take a taxi together, another German couple joined as well. (It was Sunday, but if you are there during the week - take another chicken bus to St. Jorge)
We bargained a bit with the driver until we were happy with the price, then headed for the car. The German guy wanted to open the passenger door for me but the door handle fell off. He tried moving the small iron underneath but as the door opened, we realised that the handle had also broken from the inside. The driver had noticed this as well and bursted out in emotions. The driver seat had no cushions and he was sitting on the blank metal frame. The window on the roof was fixed with tape but had wholes nonetheless. The cover of the wheel was gone. For us it may not have made such a difference but for him, he must have realised once more how his car was slowly but surely falling apart.
I've never seen such a car before. Now the passenger handle was completely broken off as well. I noticed how his facial expression didn't change even after a few minutes as we were rolling through the streets. I turned to him and gave him my cheer up smile asking "Bueno?" He smiled back at me. That felt like such a relief or more like that he was happy that someone smiled at him in the midst when everything else seemed to be falling apart.
As we reached the lakefront we were told that the ferry would leave in a minute or so. We ran like crazy with the backpack on one shoulder and the daypack on the other. In the end we made it, quickly signed in our names and passport numbers into a form so that people would get informed in case the small ferry would sink. We were supposed to wear life jackets right as we got on board.
An hour later I made it to Ometepe!