Jan 8, 2010

Where U.S. School Buses Never Retire

I bet most parents in the United States don’t know that the iconic yellow school buses they send their children to school on could one day end up as public transportation in Central America.

The buses to and from Granada, Nicaragua and neighboring villages and towns didn’t speed recklessly like those in Panama City, which are known as Red Devils. But, like Panama, most were ornately repainted and often named after a Catholic saint. Some still had former school districts printed on the side like an out of date tattoo. Tweety Bird stickers are also a popular form of adornment in both countries.

Crammed into seats that once seemed large, we waited for the bus to fill up before it departed. Throughout the ride the assistant to the driver held expertly folded money between his fingers in a fan like formation to separate the different denominations while he collected fares.

Granada’s public buses are located close the central market in unpaved lots that would be easy to miss when no buses are waiting. The transportation is a cost effective and relatively easy way to travel to neighboring villages and towns. A ride about an hour out of town cost 11 cordobas, about 50 U.S. cents.


Cindy said...

I love Grenada. The people are great and it is such a picturesque city. I was there last year and took those buses! they are the best! I love the ruffled aprons all the ladies wear. At that market by the buses I found a beautiful vintage fur coat for $2 it was totally random, but a score none the less!
If you are interested, you can see the coat and my trip here:

Catherine said...

remember those bus journeys and that bus "station" at Masaya all too well!! great shots..

Erica said...

I haven't seen these 'red devils' myself (yet) but I read about them on Cate's blog Caffeinated Traveller in September last year. Here's the link for those who are interested in seeing more text and pictures http://caffeinatedtraveller.com/2009/09/02/diablos-rojos-should-they-stay-or-should-they-go/

Dave -nibbleanibble said...

At least they are being used somewhere else. Sometimes it's not worth it to ship something to a developing country as buying it costs less than actual shipping. Then it ends up being trash..

Wendy said...

Cindy, I really loved Nicaragua as well.

Catherine, It was a good time.

Erica, I'll have to check out the post.

Dave, This is true.

Prêt à Voyager said...

i loved the red devils in panama!