Some thoughts on the musical choices of Guatemalan transport
Mat and I went to Santa Cruz del Quiché today to run some errands. As usual, we took one of our friendly camionetas, known in the English speaking world as "chicken buses", to the capital of our beloved department. Fortunately or unfortunately it was a rather uneventful ride. As I am sure we have touched on before, camionetas can be a life-altering experience. If you are very unlucky, like our dear friend Ellen, the driver loses control and flips the bus, or only slightly unlucky like Mat and get puked on by a motion-sick child who can shoot vomit great distances while you happened to wear a pair of pants with a hole in them, allowing for the throw up to find its way to the underwear, or whether it is just your average uncomfortable ride, being packed in like clown car while some woman´s breasts hang on you left shoulder, the camioneta is sure to be an experience.
However I do not believe I have ever talked about the musical choices of the camionetas. You have your highly popular ranchero music which I am not sure how to describe except to say that it is like a state fair had an affair with the polka and came out with ranchero. Needless to say, it is not our favorite. Of course there is the marimba, the country’s national instrument - neat to see in person, but gets old after a couple of songs. Then you have your more tropical selections like salsa, meringue, cha-cha but these are rare for us in El Quiché (very unfortunate). And how could I forget the wonderful Reggaetón which is a mix of Reggae, Hip Hop and even R&B, the rave of all the teens here with a lot of videos including close-ups of women shaking it “like a Polaroid picture” to quote Andre 3000. These are pretty much your run of the mill musical stylings likely to be encountered on the local transportation.
However, there have been a couple times where it was a very memorable musical experience. Let me first take you back to an earlier moment when Mat and I were on a camioneta back to our site. There were only 5 other passengers of mixed genders left on the bus, all of whom were over the age of 50. A song came on the radio which had the chorus of “Métalo papí, métalo” which translates to “Stick it in daddy, stick it in.” Everyone just sat there like it was the most normal thing in the world but I was trying my hardest not to laugh out loud. I am still surprised the ayudante (person who collects the money) didn’t change the station.
Today was even better though. We opted to take a microbus back to our site. They are a more comfortable ride but tend to be packed tightly. To be exact, there were 26 adults, 1 young girl, the driver, and the boy collecting money. Anyway, the musical selection of the microbus happened to be some classic songs in English. No I am not talking Beatles, Led Zepplin, or Zappa. We were treated to a great mixed CD with songs like “Rhinestone Cowboy,” “It’s a Heartache,” “Rock and Roll Girl,” and “Playin’ with the Queen of Hearts.” So who went to the US, spent some time there and then after hearing the diverse array of music available to him/her decided this was the mixed CD for him/her? Seriously! Then came the climax (HA!)…”Afternoon Delight.” Whether it was the song itself and its content of lovers meeting to get busy before the sun goes down, the lyrics of which were unknown to our fellow passengers or my associations of the song with Arrested Development, I was definitely laughing out loud! And those near me certainly gave some curiously disturbed stares, not that that is different from most days.
Oh it was great. I can’t wait to see what my next ride has in store for us!