The Savior Bus by JC Heinen

One o’clock in the morning of June in the year of 2016, my father and I woke up abruptly in a motel to the sounds of multiple gunshots and explosions.  “BOOM”!  My father and I felt a rumble that went through the city of Leon, Nicaragua.  I exclaimed, “DAD! We need to find cover now!”  We locked the door. Kept our distance from the windows of our motel room. We sat quietly in the middle of the room wondering what would happen next. Then, multiple bright yellow streams of light started flashing through our window. The light was so bright that it lit up my face, and immediately, my emotions of confusion were overtaken by fear.  

I felt vulnerable since my father and I were “outsiders” in the city.  We later learned that demonstrators were setting off small mortar bombs from the streets.  We unknowingly made plans to visit this city in western Nicaragua during governmental unrest between anti-government demonstrators and the federal authorities.  We were trying to get out of town as soon as possible since our itinerary was to stay in Leon for only one night as a part of an excursion throughout Central America.  We needed to catch a bus headed to Costa Rica.  However, no buses were able to get into Leon because all the roads were blocked with stacks of bricks that were stripped off from the streets by the demonstrators.  A Nicaraguan who was staying in the same motel with us arranged a ride for us to a bus stop outside of the city.  However, we had to wait a week for the next bus.  While waiting in Leon, my father and I are forced to go outside to seek food and water which gave us a close-up view of armed civilians with masks covering their faces roaming throughout the streets.  All eyes were on my father and I since we appeared to be the only white people in this large city.  

120 hours later, at five-thirty in the morning, my father and I met up with our arranged driver.  Immediately, the driver slammed the gas pedal and started steering around all the barricades blocking the streets.  Eventually, we found the bus stop on the outskirts of the city with our bus waiting patiently for us.  “My savior”, was the first thought that came into my mind after seeing the bus.  I got a feeling of relief that I had never felt before.  Instantly, after getting to my seat on the bus, I got watery eyes and found myself breathing heavily.  I was convinced that my father and I would not be able to make it out of Leon.  Before the day ended, the bus brought us out of Nicaragua, and we arrived safely at the border of Costa Rica.  The savior bus came to the rescue and saved our Central American excursion.

Note:  To my knowledge, this demonstration has ended and I do not want to discourage anyone from visiting Leon or anywhere in Nicaragua.  It is a beautiful country with a rich culture and many locals are extremely friendly.

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