I know you are going to say no

“I know you are going to say no. But, I have to ask anyway!”

With the warning that my request was going to get refused nonetheless, I started my 5 minute non stopping talking request. Determined I would not let my interlocutor say a word, I hoped that the more I spoke the bigger the chances of listening to a “yes.” Not caring if it was a “yes, please let me help you,” or a “YES, shut up now!!”

Finishing my speech with a: “See… If I had money I would pay. But the problem is that my rucksack is in the next door hotel, where they don’t know I don’t have any money to pay for my bed. I haven’t eaten for the last 13 hours and, I have not showered for the last 15. Also, I had to force the owner of the internet café down the road to accept my last “not good” dollar.”

At 7pm I laughed about it, but now 2 hours later, there was no way of hiding the anxiety in my voice praying that what the only open door wouldn’t shut me out and let me stand in the dark roads of Managua.

Outside sensible men and women locked themselves at home, away from whatever uncalled for distress the Nicaraguan night could bring in that dark part of town.

My positivism had betrayed me and put me in someone else shoes: the “other ladies shoes!!” The short Latin lady who in agony wanted to go to a destination she had already chosen but could not. A lady I had met on the long 13 hours bus ride from San Salvador. The one I had given my meaningless leftover currencies to, believing I would still have enough for a warm shower, a cheap comfortable bed and a small filling rationalized portion of food. Completely unaware of the “not as cheap as I would like” immigration fees of getting in and out of countries where I would not set foot.

Finally, I heard a positive answer. And, in the blink of an eye I set up my little self-rescue office.

“Let me put you through to the right department,” the bank employee replied.

“Before you do just let them know that…” as the description of my day followed the bank employee returned my message with an “I am very sorry but they are on a fire drill.”

What?! Why, why!!! The urge of banging my head against a wall was seriously taking over. Why had I not taken money out before? Why had tried to avoid paying extra fees, and waited to the last moment to find out my bank believed someone else was using my card instead of me in some forever in construction Managuan neighbourhood. Fruitlessly I tried to contact some of my close friends to fix the problem before my mum opened her eyes half way around the planet.

In relief the fire drill was over, and the ATM was too far for me to get to it safely. So I stepped into dark road. The lights were dimmer, and my stomach briefly returned to its normal self again.

“Do you need help?”

“Why is he speaking to me in English?” I heard the words echoing in my head.

A group grunting men wearing worn out clothing was standing in one of the corners of the bus station, and a pair of stumbling feet was heading over towards me.

I looked in through the bars, to the protection of the darkness beyond them. Inside the hotel in one of the bedrooms my fellow Mexican traveller was awake, comfortably watching TV and waiting with two delicious boiled beetroots. He was completely oblivious that I was right outside on the wrong side of the locked hotel door praying that my “Tenerifian” black bag would discreetly protect my mini-laptop, passport and my now accessible bank card.

Breathing in the drunken words of a bad looking film stereotype, I hoped that my 1,57m, brown eyes and brown hair would somehow save me of any possible negative turn of events.

“No. I am just waiting for someone to open the door.” My best fake confident Latin American Spanish was let out in a protection call. The stranger walked away.

The sleepy manager arrived surprised: “Why are you outside?” The unheard justification lead to a quick safety lecture, accompanied by slow movements to unlock the padlock, forever freezing time in a place where I didn’t want to be.

S Guedes

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