Driving Mama Cuca
There is this woman in town. She is everywhere and nowhere at the same time. I see her often, but never in the same place. It is as if she is homeless, but I'm really not sure. You see, she speaks only Miskito and I speak English and butchered Spanish. We have a serious communication barrier.
There is a chance that she has dementia, I suppose. And yet, her smile captivates me and underneath it I know that there is a story.
Most often, I see Mama Cuca at Mama Tara's Miskito Orphanage. I assume Mama Tara feeds her and possibly allows her a warm bed. Mama Cuca always has a hug and kiss for me, even though she doesn't know my name.
Last week, I had the other missionary family's Mule in town. The Mule is a red, multi-use vehicle. It has a top, but no doors - kind of like a golf cart. This particular Mule is in a state of constant breakdown. I have a love/hate relationship with this thing. Once I get it started, I do not want to turn it off, for fear that I will be alone in town with a broken-down vehicle. I also have problems with the gas on this one - it lurches forward and causes a stir to anyone within a few hundred feet of me. I think this Mule has a mind of its own, I swear it does.
I saw Mama Cuca at a store close to the lagoon just as the sky unleashed buckets and buckets of blowing rain. Now, a Mule is a great vehicle when it works, but it doesn't keep one dry during the rain. Mama Cuca pointed and asked to ride with me. Sure, I thought as I nodded my head. I tried to communicate that I was going to House of Hope, but I guarantee she had no idea where she would end up.
Lurching forward, I realized I had to stop for tortillas. We bumped along gathering stares and laughs - an elderly Miskito woman and a bumbly-brained gringo who cannot control her Mule, what a combo. Pulling up to Tortilleria Gina, soaked to the bone, I realized that I had to leave the Mule running with Mama Cuca in it. I put it in neutral on a flat surface and hopped out trying to motion to Mama Cuca to stay in the vehicle. I quickly ran up to the window and ordered our daily dose of deliciousness. All of the sudden, I turned around and saw the vehicle moving on its own. Poor Mama Cuca. You should have seen her try to stand up and get out of that possessed thing. The look on her face was one of sheer terror.
In a rush, I paid and ran fast enough to hop on the brake, stop the Mule and get back in. With a sigh and a smile, I offered a tortilla to Mama Cuca as a peace offering. She promptly folded the tortilla and stuffed it in her bra... saving it for a midnight snack, I suppose.
Our trip finished with both of us safely at the House of Hope and Mama Cuca making her way on foot across the runway. Where she was headed, I'm not sure. I guarantee she enjoyed that tortilla at some point. Here's hoping that my driving skills in the possessed Mule did not scare her away from this gringa forever!