Alternative Transportation

For Oso’s morning outing, we piled into the Santa Fe and drove the short, bumpy section of dirt road over to Playa Marsella. It is a nice, mellow stretch of sand protected in a small bay with Rocky headlands on either side. After being initiated and inspected by the local canines, Oso was off and running, enjoying the cool sand and abundance of tropical smells.

A few fishermen were getting their gear together to head out for a day on the lightly ruffled Pacific. We stretched ourselves awake and hatched into the day quietly walking the beach. Some Nicaraguan au pairs were herding a small covey of rich gringo kids in front of a palatial house at the far end of the bay. Oso found a few stinky dead things to enjoy and the morning wandering was a success for all.

Down here in the southern latitudes, finding ways to get around has been an enduring challenge for the local inhabitants. No wheeled contraption is off limits. Heck, it doesn’t even need to have wheels. If it can be dragged, pulled on ridden it is fair game. The ox cart has been the Central American staple for ages. With the addition of Dunlop’s vulcanized tyres, the rolling resistance was further reduced and all forms of horse and bovine motored carriages have emerged to get people and goods from point A to point B.

In our ramblings around NIcaragua, we have seen a lot of creative uses for cars, trucks, bikes and of course, the always famous chicken buses. The repurposed Bluebird school buses have transported locals across the countryside for generations. With all of these methods of movement mixed together, driving can get interesting at times. When a smoke blowing chicken bus is coming at you while you’re trying to get around a horse drawn wooden box while a bicycle going the wrong direction down the interAmerican Highway is forcing you into a craterous pothole as a brakeless truck loaded with bags of cement and twenty hapless humans is riding your rear bumper, it’s time to close my eyes and pray.

Dealing with all of things in the night time while driving down unlit byways adds a completely new dimension to the chaos. None of the bikes, carts or even a plurality of the motorcycles have any lights and along with livestock and dark clothed pedestrians, they just seem to appear out of the ether in front of you. But easy does it and home soon emerges round the corner. A good reminder as to why I always warn others not to drive at night.