The name "chicken bus", is of course only used by North American and perhaps some European travelers in the so-called "Third World". The locals, here in Guatemala, simply call them camionetas, buses, un transporte (a means of transportation). People carry all manner of things on the buses: big sacks stuffed with corn, vegetables, crates of soda, cartons containing bottles of oil or bags of soap powder. However, in the three years I have been traveling to Guatemala, I have very rarely seen chickens on the buses. Three years ago I was on a microbus traveling between Santa Cruz del Quiché and Chinique during the period of the patron saint feast in Santa Cruz and a woman got on on the bus with a grown chicken in her basket - -the typical market baskets that everyone, including me, uses.
But I hadn't seen anyone else bringing livestock on the buses. A few days ago traveling to Chichicastenango on the bus from Santa Cruz, there was a woman who got on the bus in Santa Cruz but left before the bus took off since she was waiting for a friend who didn't arrive in time. About halfway there, the assistant on the bus (the person who collects the money and packs things on the roof and takes them down) found a costal -- a bag used to pack corn or produce -- tied up, but moving around. A few pathetic squeaks came from the bag -- obviously a kitten. I can only hope the woman had good intentions with the kitten. I took the bag on my lap and tried to comfort the terrified kitten without opening the costal because the kitten would undoubtedly jump out and try to run around in the microbus. Eventually it calmed down a bit. I asked the assitant what he was going to do, fearful of what he would say. He said he was going to send it to his house and take care of it. And as we approached Chichi, his brother was standing on the side waiting, and the bus slowed down and the man handed the bag with the kitten off to his brother.
Finally, this week, traveling to and from San Marcos and San Miguel Ixtahuacán, on two separate occasions (only one of which I photographed) someone got on the bus with a large cardboard carton containing chickens (or maybe chicks). I don't know if the people bringing the chicks/chickens had just purchased them and were taking them home to raise, or whether they were taking them to be sold. However, finally justifying the label "chicken bus."