Thursday, June 11, 2015

Nica Scene: Driving in Nicaragua

I don't get to do it often, but when i do, there's always something to report about driving in Nicaragua.

Here in this country, driving is a privilege that is not given to very many. In the campo, (country) you're far more likely to know how to handle the reins of a pair of Brahma bulls than you are the wheel of a car -- and in the city, you're probably far more likely to have a heavy steel mountain bike be your steed.
Nica driving feat: backing onto a ferry in a full-size truck.

As a result, the larger roads are in pretty good shape -- but since many people aren't drivers, they really have no idea that drivers don't always have full control of their vehicles. Young men frequently sit on the edge of the pavement of the Pan American Highway, (stretching from north to south in this country and all of Central America) checking their phones while truckers speed by inches away. One flick of the truck driver's wrist and there would be no more phone, no more young man.

On the side streets, boys toss baseballs from one side of the street to the other, over the hood of your car. Most times they're using a tennis ball (they're cheaper), but still, it's disconcerting. Meanwhile other young kids walk side-by-side in the streets, waiting for a horn to signal to them to move to the side. In the rainy season, you'll need to drive ever-so-carefully past the large tents set up in the street, placed there as a cover for the people attending the velas -- funerals that go all night, kinda like a Latin American version of shitting shiva. It might be just be, but it seems that the rainy season seems to mean an uptick in the number of velas.

Horses pull out weedy grass from the paving stones, not caring that you're driving past. Dogs barely escape the whizz of your wheels as you drive 100 kilometers per hour past them. And everywhere, on nearly every street corner, are tire repair places, (called Vulcanizadoras -- in homage to my family namesake, the god of the fires) fixing up sad old tires one more time, one more time.

Driving at night here is literally not for the faint of heart, as pedestrians seem to pop out of nowhere and set your heart to pattering, glad you didn't hit them. Hitting a Nica, even if it wasn't your fault, is a sure way to stay in the country for an extended vacation, courtesy of the country's welcoming penitentiary system.

Indeed, driving in this country is a privilege not afforded to all... but maybe it's better that way...

Need a way to be seen in the dark? BlazeBands are great for strapping on your kids (or adults) and help everyone be seen better by cars day or night while playing, running, walking, biking, skateboarding, you name it.

Let's get a load of these and hand them out on the Pan American highway!

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