Where do school buses go when they die? It might surprise you to learn that most American school buses don’t die at all; they’re often reborn as public transportation south of the border.
The story of one aging school bus that was sold off and driven to Guatamela to begin a new life as an ornate shuttle is the subject of a new film that premiered at the SXSW Film Festival … La Camioneta. Through this one bus, the film examines how one country’s trash becomes another’s treasure, the importance of mass transportation in a country with widespread poverty and how violence and gang warfare threaten the safety and viability of that transportation.
Camionetas are used in Guatamela to ferry people from villages to cities and back again. But nearly all of them begin as school buses phased out of use here in the states. While the buses are in plenty good shape for the most part, once they reach a certain point in their lifespan, school districts auction them off and purchase new ones.
Waiting to buy them are South American companies, who drive dozens of buses South each day. They make a treacherous drive through Mexico (trying their best to avoid extortion, gangs and robbery) until the bus finally makes it to Guatamela. But even though they have arrived in Guatamela, they are still just buses –not yet Camionetas. Over weeks, the film crew watched as workers painstakingly retrofitted the school bus into the colorful, striking Camioneta. There is a true artistry to the recreation.
Read the rest: StateImpact Texas — NPR.org