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Thoughts from the Chicken Bus [Paperback]

Jenifer Bubenik
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Sept. 25 2009 1608440524 978-1608440528
Reeling from the loss of her relationship and burnt out from her high-stress politico job, Jenifer Bubenik grabbed her resignation letter off the printer and walked into her boss' office. Unaware of where to go next, and stuck in a funk, she logged online and cashed in her airline miles to book a ticket to Belize, unaware of where the country was really even located; simply knowing that nine days from then her life would be transformed from depression and desperation to sunshine and umbrella drinks. Armed with little more than hiking boots and pepper spray, the twenty-nine year old set out solo to Central America; with the goal to push her job and relationship out of her mind. What began as a three-week restorative breathing trip soon ended up as a three-month adventure through the back jungles, active volcanoes, and desolate beaches far beyond the safety-net of Belize.

Jenifer Bubenik grew up in Texas and North Carolina. She is a graduate of Appalachian State University and lives in San Diego. Thoughts From the Chicken Bus is her first novel.

Prior to writing Thoughts From the Chicken Bus, she worked in government relations. She came to write Thoughts From the Chicken Bus while traveling through Latin America, where she discovered she would like to use her time off from the nine-to-five realm to study Spanish and volunteer with the less fortunate, instead of heading straight back to the negative world of Washington, DC.

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"I moved the table in front of my locked door and curled up under my sleeping bag which I had placed on top of the covers because there was no way in hell I would be touching the bed. Leftover pubic hairs donned the sheets and the smell of stale urine was so rank I almost moved to another hostel. I lay there in all my clothes, holding my pepper spray, afraid it was accidentally going to go off inside my bag and get me instead." - Jenifer Bubenik on Ecuadorian sleeping arrangements

In 2008 at age 29, Jenifer Bubenik of San Diego, CA broke up with her boyfriend, forsook a taxing government PR gig, and did what any sane person would do - cashed-in her freaky-flier miles for an airline ticket to as far away as she could get, which was, for no other expressed reason, to Belize in Central America. (At this point, the reader might reasonably ask "Why not Hawaii or Canada?" But, let's move on.) Over fifteen subsequent days, she backpacked and (chicken) bussed her way through Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras.

Returning home to Southern California, she was so bitten by the travel bug that Bubenik decided to immediately plunder her life savings and spend additional weeks doing it all over again, this time back to Central and South America - Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia and Ecuador - again by bus and with backpack, pepper spray, and a copy of a LONELY PLANET guide that she ultimately re-entitled "Lonely Liar" for all of the flat-out wrong information it contained.

THOUGHTS FROM THE CHICKEN BUS is Jenifer's engaging and casual narrative of her 70+ days on the rutted roads. It includes a 20-page section of B&W photos, an addition so rare in travel essays, and yet so valuable, that I awarded extra points even before reading the first paragraph.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 2.6 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A self absorbed, egotistical rambling, poorly written, full of errors Oct. 8 2010
By Debbie Goehring - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have lived in Central America for six years now, and I am embarrassed to have paid and downloaded it on my Kindle. She apparently learned to speak fluent Spanish in 2 weeks in San Juan Del Sur. I know that language school, and I seriously doubt that anyone could become fluent in 2 weeks. All she seemed to be interested in were her Teva sandals, her San Diego Padre ball cap, and her Northface sleeping bag. Did she get paid to endorse those brands in her book? There were numerous errors in the book. David, Panama is not a mountain town. It is a hot, humid, coastal city. Ometepe Island has a paved road from Moyogalpa to Altagracia, not potholed and full of boulders.
She is an egotistical, self absorbed, spoiled twit, who was afraid of being raped, tortured, and killed at every turn. I found no adventure, no sense of compassion, no attempt at cultural understanding in this ridiculously written book. The only good thing about this book is that if she could get that trash published, then there is some hope for more talented authors....unless her daddy is the in the world did she get that trash published? Plus, I had to give her one star because there were no minus stars.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars 90% of the book is complaints Oct. 16 2010
By Dan - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is the story of two Latin American trips made by a Southern California woman.

There are two surprises about the book--how she manages, page after page, to come up with new complaints and why, if traveling there is so awful, she went back the second time.

She comes across as cranky and neurotic. Apparently every man she met wanted to rape her. She continually castigates the Lonely Planet guide for having outdated bus departure times. Apparently she thinks Lonely Planet should republish the book every time a local bus company changes the schedule. She abandons a three month volunteer commitment in a remote Ecuadorian village after one week because living conditions are intolerable. This despite the fact 42 families are enduring the situation every day.

Rarely does she connect with the country she is passing through. Often she is actively hostile to the natives (particularly in the last Ecuadorian village).

It is possible someone has written a more self-absorbed, self-centered book. I have not heard of it. This book is not worth the 99 cents it costs. The author should pay us damages for sitting through this drivel.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars An okay read from a poor author Nov. 21 2010
By JT - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book was decent, the stories were interesting, but the editing was very poor. I do not know how this book was published with so many blatent errors.

The product description is also erronious. The author did not actually do much volunteer work whilst on her trip, she showed up for voluteer work, complained about how people followed her around (honey - they were intersted in you), and left, crying after a few days.

She also manages to complain about each town she enters, stating each place was poor, trash ridden and smelly. She thought every man would rape her, and never gives a positive comment about any man she meets in Central America. She only spends time with other travelers, who are not from Central America and passes judgement on how the people of each country live.

She manages to only visit tourist attractions (with the exception of her "volunteer work") and tries to pass herself off as an experienced backpacker (coming from experience she has a long journey ahead of her).

She also cannot understand why Columbians will not take US $. It is because YOU ARE NOT IN AMERICA. Why would they take US $?

The book was humerous to read if only to see the author bumble around, scared, with her pepper spray by her side, but this book does not represent true travel, nor the people of Central America.

Echoing many other comments it is not worth the $.99 you pay for it nor is it a true reflection of backpacking.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Self-focused and annoying June 7 2010
By Tara Heel - Published on
What a self-focused bunch of crap. A friend recommended this to me and all i can say is that I'll never get back those 2 hours of my life I spent reading this drivel. The world does not need one more "OMG I had to sleep on a cot" travel books written by a whiney, self-indulgent gringo staving off the adult world by aimless wandering. While reading "Chicken Bus" I didn't learn about Latin America, I learned about Ms. Bubenik's arrogance and lack of abstract thought. Added to this are her poor writing skills. The writing is stilted, and at times her word choices are not only awkward, they're incorrect.

Don't waste your money on this "book." Travel to Latin America yourself and try to see out of your own first-world "misery" while you're there.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Chicken Lady on Chicken Bus March 21 2010
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I have to give Jennifer credit for what she did but found about half way through that it was getting a little stale. I don't know what she expected traveling in Central America on $28 a day but she found it. Too much complaining about conditions and situations distracted from an otherwise funny story. I have traveled extensively all over the world. Hey outside the United States with the exception of parts of Europe that is the way it is. You could say we have it too good and when you see how other people have to live you hopefully will learn to appreciate it a lot more. I also found her constant harping about how much cheaper it was everywhere she traveled compared to what she paid in California. Jennifer look around you at the standard of living these people live under. Cheap is relative and not always better and your log of your travels proves it.
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