Va Pue Magazine

Peace Corps Nicaragua stories of service.


Creative Writing

Magic Exists in the Streets of Leon

Denise / Nica 68 / TEFL

It is the grinding roar of the engine, the sound of unapologetic power that seduces me. My name is Denise and I am a public transit addict. I am weakened by strength of its massive buses. They are without question the most powerful beasts blasting through the streets of Leon and I ride those fire-breathing dragons in true Daenerys fashion. I am indeed one with Dios es mi Rey.

I watch my cobrador servant as he hangs without effort from the front stair. Dale, suave, la vuelta, el terminal, I imitate his inflection and admire his unabashed arrogance and agility. I imagine that he acts upon my will as he controls the movement of the bus and dominates the weaker subjects in need of the transport that he is offering. He opens his hands for the fare without so much as a glance or acknowledgement of their humanity. One dare not meet his glance.

Humbly their meager coins are dropped in his strong hand. All look down or away, they are at his mercy. Somehow his sharp eye and keen memory recorded those who have submitted and those that have not. Attempts to outwit my cobrador are futile. He will tap your shoulder and you will submit just as the others.

I ride my dragon with respect as we barrel along at unimaginable speeds. Our chofer knows that he is the supreme leader of the streets behind that wheel. 30,000 pounds of rattling metal sheets hit the curve at speeds that demand you brace your position. But be not deceived, it is the cobrador’s magic that dictates the pace. He sees what lies ahead. Or who stands ahead. His whistles hold the secrets. He gives the hand signal, hits the side of the monster to signal the next move in a language known only between those two.

The magic gives him the power to jump from the moving beast, cross its mighty path, punch a timecard, and run until the timing allows him to effortlessly retain his rightful place on the steps, again hanging from the entry point. And the bus never stops once during this ritual. Should his keen observation see a traffic conundrum ahead, the cobrador sprints ahead two blocks to inform the lesser vehicles that Dios es mi Rey approaches and to bow humbly, allowing it to pass without delay. What is any of this if not magic?

I imagine that the magic is all for my purposes. I must get to my destination in a manner suited for a Peace Corps Volunteer. As I descend from my dragon and the cobrador grips my hand to guide me from that last step, I acknowledge him and his service to me. He never meets my glance, but we quietly know that his magic is what I need to begin my magic.

Hello from the Other Side

Katherine / Nica 62 / TEFL

Sorry if I got Adele’s song stuck in your head now from the title (after all, I do love a good karaoke session…). It seems fitting that Adele’s song became so popular just as I touched down again in the United States after being ‘on the other side’ or ‘returned’ side of service. So, here I am to share some thoughts.

A few weeks ago, I started to peruse through my old journals, journals that I had kept throughout my time in Peace Corps. In particular, I looked at some of my final writings and essays right before I left Nicaragua. I was in a nostalgic mood on a rainy and dreary Philadelphia afternoon. I wanted to know- what was I thinking and feeling during those final moments that were only a few mere months ago but currently feel like decades in the past? Continue reading “Hello from the Other Side”

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