Wednesday, September 18, 2013

September 18, 2013
This is entirely non-football related... just an update from my son who spent part of the summer in Costa rica completing his degree requirements and is now roaming around Central America with his wife! Great way to spend post graduation, especially given that after high school he spent three months in Europe!

Of Biblical Proportions

Hey, remember when I said that we were going to have a really uneventful day riding at least 4 buses? Well I don't think I have ever been more wrong about anything in my life. We took a bus up the coast to Puntarenas, a tiny little town on an even tinier spit of land jutting out towards nicoya peninsula, transferred to a city bus back to the mainland, and got off on the Pan American Highway only to cross I-5's southern sister on foot. From there we caught a standing-room only bus to the border. The border that's 3 hours away. Thank goodness we were able to snag seats after a rest stop.

After the trip to the border, on which we met an aged punk rocker from Seattle, we had to find our way across the negligently planned no man's land between the borders. Welcome to Nicaragua! We were sweaty and tired, we'd just spent 6 hours on buses, and it's only 3pm.

Thinking the rest was smooth sailing is where my complete wrongness began to show. The bus from the border was a three-hour affair on an old converted school bus with a homebrew paintjob and no air conditioning. As well as no passenger limit. Somewhere along the 4-7pm ride it got so full that people just started holding on to the back of the bus. The bus that wouldn't even come to a full stop for them to board. I guess that's what you get for a $2 bus ride halfway across the country.

As we pulled in closer to Managua the rain began to pour. As we pulled into the stop in Managua we realized that the streets had turned into rivers. And that due to the literal flood that had begun there were no more buses to León, and we were left with finding a hostel in a less than safe city. At night. And forfeiting our reservation. Or paying the cab driver to take us two hours north to our hostel. So, managing to silence my inner miser, I took out money from an ATM and asked our Nicaraguan hero to take us to León.

All joking aside though, our driver, whose name I never even learned, is probably the most generous person I've encountered here. The roads were far from safe, lightning was striking less than a mile from where we were and the rains made it nigh impossible to see the road at times. In between bouts of mortal fear I found time to explain in broken Spanish exactly how much we appreciated what he was doing for us. He even drove around León asking where to find our hotel for no extra charge. Nevermind how bad we felt when he told us that he'd have to wait out the rest of the night in León until the storm passed, leaving him over 1000 km from his family in the midst of a biblical tempest. If I were a god-fearing man I'd consider him a guardian angel, but I feel he deserves more credit than that. He was simply an incredibly caring man who went out of his way to help two stranded gringos when he didn't have to.

I couldn't help but to hug him when we finally parted ways, and I don't think he expected that.


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