Our video about the surprising second life of old US school buses in Guatemala for AJ+ was viewed more than one Million times in just 24 hours. Yes, one million views in 24 hours!

Old School Buses Find New LifeYour old school bus might be spending its retirement years in Guatemala.

Posted by AJ+ on Tuesday, May 31, 2016

We followed the story of old US school buses that are driven down to Guatemala, where they are modified and transformed into colourful buses that serve both rural and urban areas in Guatemala.

Behind the Scenes

The video was shot in two days. During the first one, we visited one of the biggest auto repair shops in the area, where we got to witness the hard work done by the many employees. They were working on five buses at the same time, tearing them apart and putting them back together with the help of welders, painters, mechanics and many other specialists.

Here’s Maho shooting the workers inside the auto repair shop (San Miguel Dueñas, Sacatepéquez):

Maho shooting for one million views aj+ video
During the second day of shooting, we met Mardo, one of the bus drivers. He usually starts work at 6 in the morning, the time he picked us up to start shooting. Mardo was very warm and open about his job, telling us all kinds of stories. As it was a saturday, he was doing the trip with his family as well, his wife and a son, to be able to spend time with them. Just like all chicken bus drivers, he also had an ayudante, an assistant who charges people the bus fare, loads passengers things on the roof of the bus, and helps the driver navigate the always challenging traffic of Guatemalan roads. So off we went on a three-hour ride from Antigua to the boiling hot town of Escuintla and back. 

Shooting this story was fun but also quite challenging, as you can tell from this outtake:

Filming on a Guatemalan chicken busOuttakes from us filming on a Guatemalan chicken bus for an upcoming AJ+ story

Posted by On the Road Media Lab on Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Not only did the story get one million views in just 24 hours, but we also got to see how the video sparked a conversation in the comments. There were many Guatemalans who were enthusiastic about the upbeat and positive view of Guatemala shown by the video, as well as many foreigners who shared fond memories of their time in the country. But there were also many who rightfully pointed out the vast problems of Guatemala’s transport system, the pollution generated by many of the old buses, the lack of safety and how uncomfortable traveling in one of them can be.

We are currently working on several new projects that we can’t wait to share with you!