Waiting on a herd of cows to get out of the road in the rural hillsides of Nicaragua is like waiting on a teenage girl to get out of the bathroom in the morning. You can bang, yell, threaten, and bribe and they don’t move until their darn-good-and-ready.
In fact, I’d rather get stuck in rush hour in the U.S. rather than get stuck behind a herd of cows in Nicaragua. No one, in the U.S., clogs up traffic on purpose; however, cows not only do it on purpose, they actually plan ahead. “Okay, Bessie, you’re wearing the bell today so you go stand in the middle of the road and looks as stupid as you possibly can and we’ll join you.”
While we have to worry about road rage here, there you have to deal with road sarcasm. It is my opinion that cows are the most sarcastic animals known to man. I learned this while being chased across Hobson’s Pasture on my way to Hobson’s Pond near my rural Kansas home. Not only would they chase us on the way to the swimming hole, they were arrogant, opinionated, derisive, and rude. Some folks blame their parents for their problems; I blame the cows. Cows are the surly teenagers of the animal kingdom.
The road to the Nicaraguan mountain village where we were working hadn’t been graded in years. It was an hour and half of physical abuse each way. Potholes big enough to lose a small truck in would fill with slimy brown gravy after a rain. Some rock shelves were so treacherous that many people jumped out and walked. And in the mornings and late afternoons, they are clogged with cows.
Cows are the life-blood of a family. Unlike the U.S. where cows are left alone in pastures, the cows in Nicaragua are closely guarded each day. They are corralled at night in the yards where people live, then taken out to pasture the early in the morning. Then, late in the afternoon, the herdsmen take them back to the village where they spend the night mooing in the neighbor’s windows. I have seen small shacks where the cow had a room right next to the kitchen.
Rustling cattle is a big deal in third-world countries since the only thing a family has of any value is a cow. So if their cow gets stolen, they starve. Therefore, they watch over them like a hawk twenty-four hours a day. The cows take advantage of this and often stick their heads in open windows to offer snide remarks to strangers like myself. I’ve yet to out-insult a cow. They are masters of mockery with acerbic wit honed by years of terrorizing little boys on their way to a swimming hole.
I was recently stuck in a U.S. traffic jam and found myself growing more irritated as the minutes slowly ticked by. Even though I grew impatient, at least I didn’t get my feelings hurt by caustic remarks from a bovine.
I have such first-world problems.