Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Typical Nicaragua

September 17, 2006

I returned to Nicaragua after a weekend away and immediately felt right back at home. The taxi driver I had asked to pick me up at the airport didn’t seem to be there. I found another (who was very responsible and nice). But, typically, he had to stop at the gas station on the way. Managua drivers, rather than putting their fares into gas, drive on empty and seem to put in only enough to get themselves to the destination of their current order. I’m not sure why this is (lack of funds, fear of gas theft?) but I should ask.

At the gas station, I went into the mini-mart to buy some milk. On my way out, a large white truck suddenly revved up and roared backwards. An empty beer bottle fell out of the cab and crashed against the concrete. I just missed being hit. My taxi driver, Jose, looked on open mouths. He refused to move until the truck left.

“Look,” he said, as the female driver got out, giggling and swaying and moved back into the cab. Her male companion took the wheel, holding a half empty bottle of Corona in one hand, staggering as he gripped the wheel and climbed into the cab. “They are drunk. It’s very dangerous.”

We watched the driver take another drink, hanging on to his open bottle. He looked through the window with rolling eyes.

“Isn’t anyone going to stop him?” I asked.

No. Jose said that if the police saw him, they’d stop him. “But there are few police in the city. So they usually come on duty at midnight. At 9 p.m., there were neither police, nor pedestrians, on the streets.

The white truck pulled out into the fast lane into town, accompanied by a minivan that Jose said was also driven by a drunk driver. If they want to risk their own lives, I say go ahead. But what I found unfortunate is that cars, pedestrians and bicycles would all be hostage to those giant vehicles, liable to spin out of control at any time left. If any one died, it would most likely be an innocent.

Also, typically for Managua, a light evening rain fell, and the lights were out, leading us to drive down black streets.

I asked Jose if the lack of electricity was seasonal.

“It’s only been a problem this year,” he said. “Before, we had enough.”

I felt fortune smiled upon me when I found electricity working in my apartment, leading me to not mind the lack of water so much.

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