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Voyages of los Testigos - Part 9, Page 3

Jibarito Jivin'

As the travelers approached the group, Nuco's mood soared, and as soon as they reached the bus stop, he set down his suitcase and grabbed the ghetto blaster Capn was toting. "How about some music?" he said, and slipped a tape of Latin American protest music into the blaster. As the music blared over the Central American highway, Nuco began to dance.

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Having been born and raised in a white, middle class Anglo family, Nuco's dancing abilities had never been a strong point. Nevertheless, a constant desire to escape his roots had led him to interact with many cultures, and his dancing reflected that erratic path. Bits and pieces of Caribbean, African-American, Latino, and what could best be described as Extraterrestial American all influenced Nuco's dance pattern. Furthermore, each note he heard caused a continued evolution, likening him to butterfly freeing itself from the cocoonhis lower half imprisoned, arms flailing wildly about in an attempt to free himself from the past. A few minor hip twitches signified an attempt to imitate Latino style dancing, but Nuco's bottom half remained glued to its former life. The bus station crowd watched, amused.

"He's putting on quite a show," the BigCanadian said.

"Did you notice how his mood changed?" Medio added, dodging a stray arm.

"Looks happy again," the BigCanadian agreed. "I just hope all that money doesn't fall out of his pockets."

"We'd be in quite a pickle then, wouldn't we?" Medio agreed, glancing at the group of Sandinista soldiers watching the group.

"Those pantalones he's wearing are probably made in Taiwan," the BigCanadian added. "They could fall apart."

After an initial interest in the metamorphosing white boy, however, the bus station crowd focused on the music. One traveler even moved closer to the blaster and began to sing along.

"Sounds like they recognize the music," the BigCanadian said.

"That's Puerto Rican protest music," Medio said.

"What are they saying?"

"The last person to ask that question was Lady Di," Medio said.

"Who's Lady Di?"

"Our school principal. Nuco used to take over the school's PA system every Friday afternoon after the teachers had gone home. He would compliment a few kids with perfect attendance, then read the names of those who hadn't shown up that week."

"This was all broadcast from the loudspeakers outside the school?" the BigCanadian said.

"Yeah. Then he'd put some music on. The neighborhood would be jammin'."

"I'll bet Lady Di loved that," the BigCanadian replied.

"She did, until she asked what we were playing. Nuco told her the lyrics said, 'How pretty is the Puerto Rican flag. How much prettier it would be if the Yanquis didn't own it.'"

"Hmmm...and all this in a Puerto Rican neighborhood," the BigCanadian mused. "What happened?"

"She terminated the program. Said one of the neighbors called to complain about the noise."

"Doesn't sound like a good reason to cancel the show," the BigCanadian said.

"Sounded awfully suspicious to us," Medio said. "We never even heard a phone ring."

When the next song on the tape began to play, it became obvious that the Sandinista soldiers were playing closer attention. Nuco, free from the pupal stage, sat down to rest.

"What's that song about?" the BigCanadian asked, suspicious.

"It's Ali Primera, a Venezuelan musician."

"What's he saying?"

"He's talking about fighting the gringos who fuck with his people."

"Mmmm...," said the BigCanadian.

Moonwalk CA1

Ninety minutes later, the tape ended but the bus that was to take the patiently waiting travelers to the Nicaraguan border station still hadn't arrived. Nuco, reenergized, started fiddling through his pockets.

"Señor, what are you looking for?" the BigCanadian asked quickly.

"I'm trying to find my Neil Larsen tape," Nuco explained. "The people need to hear some gringo music."

"Cuidado con el dinero," the BigCanadian said, afraid that their contraband might pop out of Nuco's pockets like a temperature detector in a fully cooked turkey, exposing them as smugglers. "I, for one, don't want to spend the rest of my vacación in prison."

Nuco shook his head. "These soldiers are more interested in protecting people than oppressing them," he said.

"And in dealing with lawbreakers," the BigCanadian answered.

Nuco found the tape he was looking for and stuck it in the box. "It's time to intro a little gringo culture," he said. "This'll fire 'em up."

The rhythmic organ of Neil Larsen floated over the group, and after a wild flourish of legs and arms, Nuco began to Moonwalk down the Central American highway. The soldiers watched curiously from their post at the side of the road.

"I'll bet that's the first time these guys have ever seen the Moonwalk," the BigCanadian said.

"Definitely the first time they've seen it performed by a Cordoba-carryin' gringo in sky blue parachute pants and Saucony running shoes," Medio agreed. Gringo Americana had arrived.

Next issue, trouble with the border police, and an overloaded bus.

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