“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
― Lao Tzu
Life is a trip in the land of the not quite right (Nicaragua). I’m learning to expect the unexpected and let reality be reality. But, occasionally things happen that are so unforeseen, that the only thing to do is let things flow naturally forward in whatever bizarre way they like. It’s the only way to survive in Nicaragua!
Robinson and I went to Granada yesterday to pick-up my new-to-me Scartt dune buggy. I’ve lived in Nicaragua long enough to know that our two-hour drive back to the port to catch the ferry with my conspicuous orange machine would draw a lot of attention….especially from the police. So, Robinson drove “Ms. Debbie” to the amusement of every trucker, bicycler, cowboy, and vendor along the way.
The day was gorgeous with cattle grazing in the green grass and thunderclouds building for a late evening rain. We passed all the police stops with ease. They just stared and waved us on, which was amazing to me because I was sure we’d be stopped. We had all of our documents with us. Robinson told me not to worry about a thing. We were legal. But, I know it’s Nicaragua and the word “legal” is relative.
I bought the Scartt from my friend, who lived in Granada, and recently passed away. I am usually a worrier, but I felt a warm sense of calmness and serenity. It was almost like my friend, Sonya, was with me.
We drove slowly and carefully, and as a result we missed the four o’clock ferry. So, I treated Robinson to a chocolate mocha helado at Tip Top Restaurant. We needed a break because my Scartt is loud and we couldn’t talk to each other without shouting for two hours on the road.
Robinson loaded the Scartt onto the five o’clock San José ferry. It was too easy. Our road trip had been perfect. Was I worrying needlessly?
With the Scartt snuggled among the plantain trucks, we enjoyed an hour of peace and relaxation.
The sunset was breathtaking. When we landed on Ometepe Island, it was dark. Robinson drove me home and I fell exhausted into bed.
The next morning, Ron inspected my little orange buggy. I hadn’t driven it yet, so I planned a shopping trip into town after our young helpers were finished macheting our yard. I wanted this dune buggy so bad because I can’t drive Ron’s moto and I needed a sense of independence. I hated depending on Ron or a moto taxi to take me everywhere on la isla.
After our workers were done for the day, Ron and the two boys took a little joy ride. Ron was shirtless without any documents. They squeezed into the two-seater for a quick trip around the block…assuming that no police would be on the dirt roads.
Unbeknownst to them, a robbery had occurred on the dirt road behind ours, Alfonzo was trying to drive the Scartt, and Ron and Jose were hanging out the window/door. The road was teeming with police…drooling over our conspicuous orange dune buggy. What an opportunity!
Two policemen stopped Ron and asked for his documents. “Dame su llaves,” drooled the cop. (Give me your keys.) Jose whispered to Ron, “Don’t give him your keys.” They aren’t allowed to take your car.” Too late! When a cop asks for the keys, we were trained to listen to him.
“Go home and get your documents.” We’ll wait here.” said the second officer.
When Ron arrived at the house, he told me he had to take the documents back to the police. They were waiting for him near the elementary school. “I know the police,” said Julio. “I’ll go with you.”
Meanwhile, Jose walked back to my house to tell me that the police had driven my dune buggy to the police station in Moyogalpa and Ron was to meet them there with all the documents and they could issue the tickets for driving without a license, driving without seat belts, too many people in the buggy, and an unlicensed driver at the wheel.
Ron returned about 30 minutes later with my buggy, which surprised me. How he could take care of all the tickets so rapidly? These kind of things have been known to take days.
“Ron, how did you get back so quickly?” I asked. Then, I saw it! My headlight was missing and the dune buggy was smashed in the front! I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry, or scream in anger!
“Great,” I thought. “I don’t have to walk all the way into town to the police station.”
I laid all my documents on the back of the Scartt to show the policemen, but they were preoccupied on their phones. It seemed really strange to me that they didn’t want to see any of my documents.
” Tengo una problemo,” said the first cop. ( I have a problem.) Then, he showed Ron the missing headlight and the smashed front of the dune buggy.
“We hit a dog,” said the second cop. Ron screamed, “EEY”…that’s the Nicaraguan way to say, “Yes, we have a big problem.” and “Wait until my wife finds out about this!”
There was no dog to be found and the headlight was too high for them to have hit a dog. Then, they saw the tree with the scarred trunk. The police were about to cry. They said they would take the car to be fixed, but Ron had to pay for the tickets, which would amount to about 1,500 cords or $57.
Ron could tell that they were really uncomfortable and nervous if he accepted their offer. Apparently, the temptation to drive my bright orange dune buggy was too great. They took a fast joy ride and couldn’t stop when they came to the construction on our main road. If they told the captain what had happened, they both would be fired.
They were remorseful, and told Ron, “Just leave and you don’t have to pay any tickets.” So, Ron gathered up the headlight and headed home.
After listening to Ron’s saga, I was furious. I wanted to go right to the police station and talk to the captain. “They had no right to take our buggy in the first place, and now they’ve crashed it.” “I want justice!”
But, Nicaraguan justice is all relative, like being “legal”. Ron talked to a mechanic, who could fix it just like new for $50. It is going to the mechanic tomorrow morning. Alfonzo was afraid he would get in serious trouble for driving without a license, and he was relieved that the cops let Ron go without any tickets. Not to mention how relieved the cops were when Ron said he’d fix it himself. They hugged him. Yes! Really!
Sometimes, we just have to let go and accept reality. Life is a series of ‘unnatural’
(especially in Nicaragua) and spontaneous changes. Resisting the changes would only create more sorrow, aggravation, and frustration.
In forgiving the policemen for their impulsive joy ride, they will be our friends forever and help us when we need help.
We won’t have any hassles with the Scartt on the island because word spreads quickly, especially among the cops…don’t hassle the people in the bright orange dune buggy!
Ron learned to never give his keys to any police officer, to always carry the proper documents, and never let an unlicensed driver attempt to drive. The police were so grateful, they told Ron, “Let your young friends practice driving on the baseball field anytime!”
In the afternoon, I drove the Scartt into town to do some shopping. I smiled at the police as I drove by and shouted out the window, “Remember me always. We are now good friends.” I think they saluted me, either that or they tried to give me a hug in passing.
Let reality be reality. Life is never going to be perfect…but, it sure beats the heck out of living a passionless life in the states. I’ve made new friends who will protect me and watch out for me. Everyone is happy, and tomorrow I’ll have my bright orange dune buggy back to normal in the land of the not quite right.
What would you do in a situation like ours? Do you think we made the right choice?