Thursday, March 22, 2007

Goodbye Nicaragua, Hello Guatemala

The other title for this post could be "Fiery Entrances and Long Bus Rides." with the subtitle "Taxis and Addresses in Nicaragua."
So I finished up my last couple of days at language school in Nicaragua. I got a 95% on my last test and even got a diploma. I took one last look at the ocean said goodbye to my friends and headed for Managua. I took the direct bus even though it was probably a little slower just to make things a little easier. And I got to Managua no problem. So than it was bargaining time. Taxis in Managua do not have meters nor are they zoned. They go on the name a price system. So usually the taxi driver will quote you something and you will decided whether you like the price or not and either try to bargain, get in or walk away. So the first taxi driver I asked quoted me 80 which was to high so I walked away. The second driver said 120. I just laughed and the third quoted me 70 an I bargained to 60 (wish is about $3). It was probably still a little expensive and cost more than my 4 hour bus ride but it was night and I had my big bag so I did not feel like trying that hard. So off we went. Oh yeah and taxis pick up other passengers along the way if they are going the same direction you are. So we picked up two other folks and were doing all right until the car stalled on a big hill. Have no fear the driver backed into a driveway popped the hood and started fiddling. I sat tight and took my cue from the other passengers who seemed to be ready to wait it out. After not to long the driver said we were ready to go. The car still would not start but after a tricky move that involved driving backwards down the hill for a second to get the car started than backing into the driveway and then taking off. So we headed off again and after dropping the other two passengers were on our way to Emily´s house.
So a bit about addresses in Nicaragua. Although there are some houses that have numbers they do not usually mean much and most of the streets are not named anyway. So people get around by using "well known" land marks. Things like large intersections, stoplights near well known places, big trees or where things used to be before the earth quake in 72. Yeah that's right in order to know address in Guatemala not only do you need to know every major intersections building and restaurant in town you also need to know where things were 30 years ago. Oh yeah and to make things better the cardinal directions are not used that often either. Two blocks up means two blocks east because that is where the sun comes up, like wise down is west, towards the lake is north because the lake is north and towards the mountains is south. So you can imagine that people might get a little confused like my driver who confused the entrance to the hospital with the gate of the hospital and tried to drop me off 8 blocks from where I wanted to be. Luckily I had been there before so I told him no and after a little discussion he realized his mistake. Picking up other passengers, having the taxi break down, or run out of gas are some what normal things however having the taxi catch on fire as you pull up to your destination is not. Just as we came to a stop in front of Emily´s house the engine caught fire. We both quickly hopped out of the car as the taxi driver yelled for someone to give him water. He did however run around the back and toss by bag out before opening the hood and dousing the engine with a hose and buckets of water that Emily´s neighbors were supplying him.
The rest of my stay in Managua was rather calm comparatively. We drank some. Danced some and I said goodbye to some friends. Than began the long bus rider to Guatemala. I got on the bus at 2:30 in the morning. Sort of a strange time for leaving but it meant that I got into Guatemala City by 4 PM or so. The other option was staying over night in San Salvador so I took the 2:30 bus. The bus was really nice and I was able to sleep some. The only not so great part was that we did not stop until 2 in the afternoon for food. Man was I glad I had some Ritz cheese crackers. But we made it and than I took a taxi to another bus station and made it to Xela by 10 or so. I was pretty exhausted so I went straight to bed. More on the adventures in Xela and my first week in Language school coming up.


Sossego333 said...

I'm glad the car caught fire AT your destination as opposed to earlier. That's crazy. How long ago was all this?

Sossego333 said...

did you do your taxes before you left?? Kacie was just wondering how you were going to do them over there...