When you leave the airport in Managua, you enter a different kind of reality. One where horns are commonplace, buses seem like death traps, and traffic laws seem more like suggestions than rules to be adhered to. In all honesty, driving in Nicaragua feels like a giant game of Mario Kart. There are banana peels (literally), oil slicks, insane drivers, and sometimes even fire. I wish that was a joke. So naturally, all the chaos also means there are accidents. Some are worse than others, but to be honest, getting in an accident almost feels like a given. Eventually the perfectly chaotic system is going to break and someone is not going to check their mirror, and two moving objects are going to collide.
Thankfully, when we got in our accident early last week, it was an annoyance more than anything. What happened was this: we were going to change over money at the money changers on the side of the road. [The money changing system deserves its own blog post, so I won’t go into details here.] As we approached the shade trees we saw the semi truck parked with its flashers on, right where we needed to be. We quickly discussed the best plan for where to park, and decided it would probably be best to pull past and in front of the truck. Landon checked to see if the guy’s tires were moving yet (which they weren’t) and then pulled in front. At just the perfect moment the semi driver began to pull out and his front driver side bumper collided with our rear passenger side panel and tail light. It took a second for us to realize what had happened, but as we came to a stop the reality sunk in: we had had our first accident.
The short version of the rest of the story is that the police came, as did Santos [an awesome guy who works for the Buzbees and also deserves his own blog post] and we all talked. In the interest of time and minimizing everyone’s headaches over the incident we ended up paying the semi driver 1500 Cordobas. (Everyone ended up agreeing that it was perfectly terrible timing, but when you looked at it all, we were at fault.) The truck driver and Landon ended up signing an affidavit of sorts releasing one another of any further responsibility, and the police officer called it done.
As is usually the case, we learned from this ‘adventure’ as well. The two very valuable lessons are these: 1) even though there is a rhythm to the chaos that is driving in Nicaragua, we need to be diligent to be careful and aware; and 2) Brinson’s late 90’s model Land Cruiser is a tank.