Monday, May 28, 2007

a dark and scary night

So they say that Nicaragua is the safest country in Central America, and all my experiences over the last 13 months confirm that fact. Nevertheless, tonight I was scared out of my wits. I had gone to the national theater to see the local ballet folklorico with some coworkers who were here for a conference, which was very fun, but at 9pm when the show was over and I walked outside to hail a cab, every taxi in sight appeared already occupied. So I decided to walk (alone, in a dress and nice sandals, in the dark) up to the nearest intersection and hail one there. (I know, I know.)

Sure enough, 10 minutes later I was (I thought) safely on my way home. But not really. You see, cab drivers here have 2 common practices here that sometimes make me nervous. One is, you pay for your seat, not for an exclusive ride. The other is, drivers tend to push their gas tanks to the last possible drop before filling up. Five blocks into the ride, a sketchy guy hailed my driver down, and of course he stopped…as soon as I got a good look at him I could see he was drunk, and indeed he could not even articulate the directions to his destination, which thankfully made my driver pull away without giving him much of an opportunity to lean into the cab and scare me (although I was slightly freaked out). The taxista picked up on that and asked me if I was afraid. “Of course I was,” I said lightly. “This city is a little dangerous at night.” He smiled and we kept going, but as if that weren’t enough excitement for one night, suddenly the engine jumped and sputtered, and I realized we were about to run out of gas. We coasted for about another 100 feet, and the guy said, “sorry, vayase con otro”. I gave him a little bit of money for his trouble, but in my mind I was thinking, “Oh my God, I am alone in the middle of a neighborhood I do not know and I am wearing a dress and I am a perfect target right now.” So I did the only thing I could think of—I clutched my keys and a C$50 bill (hidden) in my hand and walked briskly down the street, pretending I was absolutely sure of where I was going and that I belonged there. I was thinking, “Even if I am robbed and they take my purse, I will be able to get another cab and get in my front door.”

I must have walked about 10 blocks before another cab drove by—by that point I was in an area I knew, but I wasn’t taking any chances. I took the rate he offered me and breathed a silent sigh of relief, followed by telling my new driver that my previous one had run out of gas in the middle of my viaje. “That makes me nervous,” he blurted out, and pulled into the gas station on the corner and filled up, even my house was only 5 more blocks away.

Obviously I’ve lived to tell the tale, so everything turned out fine thank God, but I had chills for a good half hour after walking in the door…I hope I never have to go through that again.


paul said...

glad you're safe, hermana.

nicapamela said...

thanks, pablo.

thecuckoo said...

I'm so glad you are safe!