Saturday, November 13, 2010

Bus Driver

If I had been born in rural Nicaragua, I think I would have wanted to be a bus driver. Now, hear me out on this one. First of all, the bus system in Nicaragua is not the tame, government-sponsored affair that it is in most US cities. Bus drivers here are cowboys. Basically, to start a bus route, you get a group of guys together, at least one of whom knows how to drive and at least one of whom can do repairs, and you buy an old school bus from the US. You paint it and decorate the crap out of it with stickers and religious iconography and anything else that strikes your fancy, you affix a metal rack to the top of it, you give your bus a cool name, and you go to work.

For those of us in rural areas, the buses are a lifeline. Not only are they good for getting into the nearby cities, they are also good for sending messages, refilling cooking gas, and hauling anything you might buy in the city. These buses also transport firewood, fresh milk, and live animals up to the size of a goat.

Fortunately for me, buses pass by eight times a day in either direction. In the morning there’s El Pitón (the Big Honker), the Red Bus, Úbeda, and Santa Inez. In the afternoon it’s Chico’s bus, Confite (Hard Candy), Wilo, and Chepita.

The reason I think I would have liked to be a bus driver, or at least an assistant on a bus, is that these guys are local celebrities. Everyone in all the towns along the bus route knows their names. The women talk about whether they are good-looking, trustworthy, flirtatious, or up to no good. Also, a lot of times these guys are ripped, since they spend all day climbing around on the bus, ferrying people’s heavy belongings up to the roof rack and back down again. Not only are they strong, they are also chivalrous. They hold babies for women as they find their seats and help old people on and off the bus. And they walk around with big wads of cash from all the bus fares they have collected. Basically, they are really, really cool.

Everyone once in a while you see a female assistant on a bus, but it is rare. I have this idea that it would be really cool to start an all-female bus cooperative. The bus could be painted pink, and it could have a name like Mamasita. I would ride that bus. Hell, I would drive that bus.


Penny said...

Yup, those buff cobradores are pretty hot. Sometimes I think that's all a girl really needs - a chivalrous man who can carry her luggage and make change in an instant

lazrowp said...

Sounds like you have hit upon a great business idea that could be successful. I bet you could even sell the merits to the Peace Corp and your community leaders.....? Do you think you could find enough females with entrepreneurial spirits? Careful to not go down the "Hooters" path (although that place is still making $$$)

sk8josh said...

...Although having been on the 'Other Drivers Sharing the Road with these Bus Drivers' part of the equation...some better 'Driver Training' might be in order!

pablo said...

I can´t stop laughing, my small cousin can´t stop repeating (against the hopes of his parents) that all he want to do when he´s older is a bus driver. I haven´t meet a kid who is really sure, convinced of what he wants to do when grow up. amazing, I liked your words so much!