Four Hens for a Bicycle
Sun, Jun 16, 19
We returned back to Nicaragua after the revolution. It was like going back into time: there was little fuel so people were traveling by oxen and horses. The population was 90% women and 10% men; over 60 years, a generation had been wiped out. Men from the ages of 11-50 years old had left or been sent to the battlefront. The exchange rate was absurd.
One would exchange 100 US dollars and receive a bag full of Cordobas. We returned to my hometown of Santa Teresa. I remember we had a horse-- a white one with few brown spots. I had named him “Trigger” but because of our Nicaraguan accent, it sounded like “Trigo” which means wheat. So the name stuck.
My father and I arrived at my aunt’s house. After hours greeting the family, my cousin Monchi and I decided to walk up the hills to the farm and get Trigo. So we did, and he was standing underneath a large mango tree out of the sun. I called him, using the clicking sound I would make with my teeth. Trigo remembered and came over. I stroked his long nose, fed him some treats and then mounted him. We rode into town: Monchi on his horse and I on Trigo. It had been 15 years since we rode together, and Trigo had aged, but that day, I think because of the treats and his joy to see me, he rode like a stallion. He still had stride so as we came into Santa Teresa we gave them a show.
As we passed my grandfathers Pharmacy and turned at the church a young kid on his bike ran into Trigo and I. This startled Trigo and he ran a bit before I could get the reigns. When I turned back, the kid was gone so I figured all was ok. Trigo and I rode the rest of the afternoon. When we returned back to my aunt's house my whole family – aunt, uncle, first and second cousins, were all outside standing waiting for me. Rumors had spread like wildfire as they do in these small towns that the Gringo with the hat had been riding his horse wildly through the streets and had nearly killed a boy and trampled his bicycle.
The matriarch of the family, my Tia Chio, asked me what happened. So I proceeded to tell her the day’s earlier events. There was a knock at the door -- it was the mother of the child and her posse inquiring about retribution for the damaged bike and her frightened child.
As I tried to explain my version of the event and getting nowhere, my father -- who is short on Patience and words -- said in a deep voice, “how will a few of our finest hens do in retribution?” She took the deal. And the image which sticks in my mind is that of a small round women walking down a dirt road with four chickens hanging upside down two on each hand.