Edelma—the Only Female Taxi Driver on Isla Ometepe

Edelma, the female taxi driver

When we first saw Edelma, after arriving in Isla Ometepe (Nicaragua), we weren’t sure if we should accept a ride with her.

She looked nice enough, but like the other taxi drivers, she was super eager and borderline pushy.  “Vamos,” she said. “I’ll find you a room, too.” My travel companion and I, feeling slightly cynical and jaded, were both a bit suspicious—sospechosas (in Spanish). We said no and tried to find the local bus.

Edelma next to her taxi

Edelma, the only female taxi driver on Isla Ometepe

Taxi–the Only Choice

Ten minutes later, we realized that we’d missed the bus and that the next one wasn’t coming for an hour. (Per Lonely Planet, service was ‘infrequent.’) We would have to find a taxi if we were going to make our way around the island, which is 31 km long and between 5 to 10 km wide; many of its roads were crappy at the time. PS: we didn’t yet have a reservation for a room.

“Ven conmigo,” she said, approaching us again, with a warm, friendly smile. Come with me. The male taxi drivers were there, too, all trying to convince us to go with them, but we ignored them. We chose Edelma.

It turned out was the best decision we could have made.

Fun Ride Despite an Iffy Vehicle

Sure, it was a mini hell ride, being in her old ’85 Datsun pickup with broken windshield wipers and other ‘issues’ like rough steering, iffy suspension and dubious brakes. But it was fun. We laughed a lot and by the end of the day, we’d become friends. And we found a great room, too.

Inside Edelma's taxi

Inside Edelma's taxi

The next day we hired her for our own personal tour—and saw everything we wanted to. She suggested that we stop at Ojo del Agua, a lovely half-natural swimming hole surrounded by tropical vegetation and a tree growing in it, and we did.

We got to relax in cool, clear water and felt like we were in a mini paradise. After some hectic travel, it felt good to be in the moment. I was glad we took her taxi—and her advice.

Telling Her Story

During the time we spent with Edelma, we got to know her, and it was a heart-warming experience. A kind and authentic woman—one we’d misjudged—she told us her story…what her childhood was like, how she met her husband (also a “taxista”) and how she’d become a taxi driver.

Edelma at the wheel

Edelma, smiling and laughing

“We worked so hard back in Managua,” she said, explaining the types of  jobs (eg, cleaning) and the long hours. “We saved all our money and then came here and bought this taxi.” It had cost them several thousand dollars–a small fortune in Nicaragua.

“So…you’re the only female taxi driver on this island?” I asked. “Sí,” she said, grinning from ear to ear and laughing. Her pride was obvious.

Sharing Her Dream

While driving us around, she told us about her dream for the future—possible ownership of a small van, which would allow her to take more people around the island and to make more money—to have an easier life perhaps.

She shared her dream with me a few years ago. I wonder now if she made it come true. I certainly hope so. Whatever happened, I’m sure she’s still got that wonderful smile and that infectious laughter.

Edelma, the only female taxi driver on Isla Ometepe, warmed my heart and made me smile…and I’ll never forget her.

Edelma, the female taxi driver

Edelma and her unforgettable smile

Your Thoughts/Experiences

Have you ever become buddies with your taxi driver? What was it like? What did you chat about? What did you do? And have you ever been driven around by a female taxi driver? If so, where? What was she like?

Have you been to Isla Ometepe? Did you see Edelma when you were there?

Your Input on This New Series, Please

This is the first post in a new series I may be starting called “Meet the Locals.” In each, I’d explain who I met, how/where and what they were like.

What do you think? Is this something you might enjoy reading more of in the future?

30 Responses to Edelma—the Only Female Taxi Driver on Isla Ometepe
  1. Amanda
    December 27, 2011 | 2:14 am

    LOVE the idea of this new series! It’s great to get to know the locals when you travel, and this sounds like a really great experience!
    Amanda recently posted..Photo of the Day: Chihuly CeilingMy Profile

    • CB Driver
      December 27, 2011 | 9:10 am

      Thank you, Amanda! I’m glad to see that people are interested in this. One of my favorite parts of travel is meeting the locals; it’s often the people that make the place special. Perhaps it’s time to share their stories.

  2. Sue.L.
    December 27, 2011 | 3:17 am

    I really like your ideas for the new topics. Continue to include your great photos!!

    • CB Driver
      December 27, 2011 | 9:09 am

      Hey, Sue. Thanks for stopping by and happy to hear that you like the new series!

  3. Rachel Cotterill
    December 27, 2011 | 5:47 am

    Great post :) I’ve only just found your blog, but I’d certainly be interested in reading more like this – meeting people is one of my favourite parts of travel :)
    Rachel Cotterill recently posted..Christmas GreetingsMy Profile

    • CB Driver
      December 27, 2011 | 9:08 am

      Hi, Rachel. Welcome to the C Bus! As you soon see, the ‘rides’ are quirky, fun and deep! Thanks for the feedback on the new series. I was thinking people might like the ‘meet the locals.’ Glad you’re interested!

  4. Stephanie - The Travel Chica
    December 27, 2011 | 6:27 am

    So rare to see a female taxi driver in Latin America (or probably most places in the world). Great story.
    Stephanie – The Travel Chica recently posted..Have You Seen the Whales Show?My Profile

    • CB Driver
      December 27, 2011 | 9:07 am

      Hola, Stephanie and gracias! True–it is rare. And that’s what was so sweet about her. She asked us as one point why we didn’t go with her right away and we explained that we were initially suspicious of her. She laughed her butt off!

  5. Rease
    December 27, 2011 | 8:41 am

    I tend to have pretty boring and/or unpleasant taxi drivers, but I have heard nice stories like this before. Once, my friend left his ipod in the taxi and realized it just seconds too late. He stood on the corner, sad and defeated. The taxi driver drove back 5 minutes later, gave him the iPod and refused to accept any cash as a reward!
    Rease recently posted..Clothing that gives you away as a touristMy Profile

    • CB Driver
      December 27, 2011 | 9:05 am

      Hi, Rease. That is a great story. I love when I hear something like that. It’s easy for people to generalize about taxi drivers, but there are quite a few good ones out there. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Marsha
    December 27, 2011 | 9:28 am

    Love this, Lisa! One of your greatest strengths as a traveler is your ability to connect with people during your travels. Can’t wait to meet the rest of the locals!
    Marsha recently posted..2011: Travel by the NumbersMy Profile

    • CB Driver
      December 28, 2011 | 12:17 pm

      Thanks, Marsha–happy you like it! I do meet a lot of locals, especially when in Latin America. I know the Spanish helps. I try to meet them elsewhere, too, but it’s a bit trickier. Still, it’s enjoyable. I look forward to sharing more of these posts….

  7. Gray
    December 27, 2011 | 10:04 am

    I love this, Lisa. Funny you should post this right now, as I’m working on a piece about some of the cool people I’ve met this year during my travels–and yes, some of them were taxi drivers. I wouldn’t say I became long-term friends with them, but they certainly made my travels more enjoyable. It’s amazing how much they’ll tell me–a total stranger–about their lives. I’m always blown away by that.
    Gray recently posted..Christmas Week Travel. . .Or NotMy Profile

    • CB Driver
      December 28, 2011 | 12:14 pm

      Hi, Gray. What a cool coincidence! I really look forward to reading your post. It’s true that they often share a lot. Once, in Mexico, I confided in one when I was having a bad day. He was a great listener–almost like a bartender might be! :)

  8. Sabina
    December 27, 2011 | 1:55 pm

    What a cool story! You picked the right taxi driver :) I have never, ever had an experience similar to this. Now, though, I’ll remember to talk to my cab drivers more, believe me.
    Sabina recently posted..Merry Christmas from the Middle EastMy Profile

    • CB Driver
      December 28, 2011 | 12:12 pm

      Hi, Sabina. Glad you liked it! She was a sweetheart, for sure. And to think that we were suspicious of her! It’s worth talking to them. It can really lead to a nice experience. Sometimes, however, it’s not a good idea. I had a problem with a driver in Amman, believe it or not. I had to put my Circassian friend on the phone to yell at him!

  9. Dan
    December 27, 2011 | 2:17 pm

    Nice post and good idea for a series.
    Meeting, and spend time with, the locals is what make a vacation.
    My experiences with taxi drivers are at best… adventurous. Not always fun, but never boring
    Dan recently posted..Es hora de un cambioMy Profile

    • CB Driver
      December 28, 2011 | 12:11 pm

      Hi, Dan. Thank you for the feedback! I hear you re: ‘adventurous’ taxi driver experiences. I’ve had a few of those, too.

  10. Travel Post Roundup (Jan 4) | Budget Your Trip
    January 4, 2012 | 12:20 pm

    […] Edelma – The only female taxi driver on Ometepe by Chickybus […]

  11. Best Blogs of the Month: December, 2011 » A Dangerous Business Travel Blog
    January 11, 2012 | 5:22 pm

    […] Edelma — the Only Female Taxi Driver on Isla Ometepe at Chicky Bus […]

  12. Claire
    January 15, 2012 | 8:54 pm

    The title of your post caught my eye, and sure enough, it’s her! I encountered her a few months ago when I was on the island and you’re right…..she is pushy! We did not give her the chance you did though. She is still driving the same van and we bypassed her warning that transportation was infrequent and elected to WALK around the island instead, in the rain. Wish I had already read this post! Awesome, and thanks for sharing. So cool!
    Claire recently posted..Identity TheftMy Profile

    • CB Driver
      January 16, 2012 | 11:03 am

      OMG…no way! Really? Wild!!! It rained there. Shame. And those buses were slow as hell.

      So your first thought was re: fitting in her truck–lol. Yeah, not easy. Anyway, thanks for sharing this. I was hoping someone else had spotted her. Very cool!

  13. Claire
    January 15, 2012 | 8:55 pm

    Same Datsun truck, I mean. I remember getting off the boat and thinking…how will all of us fit in that?
    Claire recently posted..Identity TheftMy Profile

  14. Leslie (Downtown Traveler)
    February 26, 2012 | 8:54 am

    What an interesting woman! We had a similar experience in Cambodia… our guard was up in Siem Reap with all of the touts but we found an amazing, sweet taxi driver who was our guide for two days.
    Leslie (Downtown Traveler) recently posted..Caribbean art: 25 photos of colorful street art in CuracaoMy Profile

    • CB Driver
      February 26, 2012 | 5:30 pm

      Thanks, Leslie–glad you enjoyed the story. Awesome that you met a cool driver in Cambodia who became your driver. Nice when that happens, isn’t it!

  15. kennia
    March 10, 2012 | 4:47 pm

    that’s my mom!

    • CB Driver
      March 10, 2012 | 5:00 pm

      Really? Que interesante! How’s she doing? Please tell her hello! PS: I saw your other comment, but I’m confused by it. Are there people there on the island who don’t want her to pick people up at the same location? I did look you up on Facebook. Will send you an invite, too!

  16. Waegook Tom
    April 12, 2012 | 8:22 am

    I got called a c*nt by a taxi driver in Newcastle once when I asked him if I could bring my post-club catering van burger in his taxi.

    Aaaaanyway…love this post! I wonder if a non-Spanish speaker would have had the same experience? Either way, it’s a lovely story and great photos, too.
    Waegook Tom recently posted..An Interview with Breakaway BackpackerMy Profile

    • CB Driver
      April 12, 2012 | 8:33 am

      Hi, Tom. Glad you enjoyed the post! Meanwhile, I can’t believe that taxi driver said that to you–just awful!

      You may have a point re: how being a Spanish speaker made a lot of the experience possible. She didn’t know any English really, so that would have made communication super challenging. Definitely.

  17. The Taxi Trilogy: Finding Inspiration in a Las Vegas Taxi | The Vegas Solo
    April 22, 2012 | 12:23 pm

    […] This is part 1 of a  3-part series about memorable cab rides I’ve had over the years. Parts 2 and 3 will be posted on my other blog, SoloFriendly, later this week. Be sure to Like my Facebook page or subscribe to my SoloFriendly feed so you don’t miss them. Thanks go to Lisa Egle of Chickybus fame for the inspiration for sharing these stories after I read her story about the only female taxi driver on Isla Ometepe. […]

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