2 Bus Tickets, 30 Machetes and an “El Che” Tee-shirt

Now I am scared at the best of times, but the bus ride from Tuxtla in Chaipas to Oaxaca city in Oaxaca was enough to raise sheer terror for about 30 minutes (unnecessary terror as it turns out).

Basically we (our bus) came across a large section of stopped traffic on the highway.  The bus driver (in true Mexican bus driver form) decided to take the bus up the opposite (wrong) lane on the road.  After about 5 minutes of driving past stopped traffic we came to the blockage.

Once we had reached the head of the traffic jam, we encountered about 30 men with machetes blocking the road.  The men were forcibly stopping traffic from passing in both directions.  After the bus driver got off the bus to speak with the men, he made an announcement to the bus in Spanish.  A little concerned, we asked the bus driver whether he spoke any English and what was going on.  His response was “problem politic”, which didn´t really alleviate our fears.  As it turns out, the ‘problem politic’ was a strike by banana cutters over their wages… hence the fact that they all had machetes (which they use to cut the bananas). 

As a result of this Mexican style industrial action, we were stopped on the highway for about 4 hours (about the last thing that you need on a 10 hour bus trip).  Although, it wasn’t a bad place to be stuck really.  The road was crowded with drivers and quite lively, a man appeared from somewhere with what can only be described as a refridgerated wheelbarrow selling (banana) ice-cream, the men with machetes were being quite the stand-up comedians, and appeared to be keeping the crowd of people entertained.  It was actually quite festive, and best of all, no one appeared to be particularly bothered or angry.

The funny thing is that buses get stopped about twice per hour by customs, the military and immigration as a security precaution.  However, when the traffic gets stopped for 4 hours by 30 men with large knives, there is not a police officer to be seen!

1 Response to “2 Bus Tickets, 30 Machetes and an "El Che" Tee-shirt”

  1. 1 Karen Feb 16th, 2007 at 11:22 pm

    Good thing you did some training at the G4 protests. And BTW where are the pix of the men with the machetes?

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