I was about 17, and my sister Mali and I went to Nicaragua to visit my cousin Nicole, we stayed at her mom Gloria's house near la caretera sur. We began planning a trip to Bluefields, on the Atlantic Coast, to visit the town and check out the scene... my cousin has family there, etc.
There are two ways to get to Bluefields from Managua, or at least at the time there were: a rickety old "Snoopy" prop plane, or the legendary Bluefields Express. Since I had grown up listening to this song, "The Bluefields Express," and also because we didn't have much money, we opted for this option.
Well, the Blufields Express starts out as a bus ride - all night. The bus (an old American school bus with seats built for children and rather cramped, and painted of course rasta colors with playboy and Jesus stickers) leaves around 10 pm from the bus station in Managua. A tucan was tied by one leg to the rail on the inside of the bus, and the people in front of us were smoking and drinking all night. At period stops street venders approached the windows selling plates of chicken, platanos fritos and of course gallo pinto, which no nicaraguan meal can be without. Huge baskets of wares for market were strapped to the roof of the bus, and various other livestock also rode in the passenger compartment with the humans (us).
And it rained. The whole time. I think it always does. And the roads are not paved. So when we hit the huge potholes the whole bus would lurch and jump. All night.
At dawn we arrived at Rama, at the top of the river. We waited to get the tickets for the next leg of the journey, which was a ride in the lancha up the river. Of course it still rained, so the speedboat captain gave us one of those blue tarps to hold over our heads, all of us lined up in the boat four to a row and holding the tarp to prevent the rain from soaking us any further.
After about two hours of this ride up the river, we arrived in Bluefields around 8am. That was the Bluefields Express.
My cousin Nicole's aunt met us at the dock in Bluefields, and as we walked through the town she told us that the plane from Managua that we would have taken never arrived. It had crashed, probably due to a faulty altimeter, and all 16 passengers aboard had died, as well as the pilot and crew. As we walked through the small rural town of Bluefields we passed the houses of families mourning their losses, family members who had opted for that plane to return home to Bluefields and never made it.
I always somehow credit the song, "The Bluefields Express" for saving our lives that day. Because the Express was a romantic journey sung about in creole english, the singer calling for the listener to "come take a ride," I wanted to. He persuaded me and I am thankful.
And that's how the song "The Bluefields Express" saved my life.