Cocaine Cowboy

Two or three nights ago in San Juan I chatted with an old biker from south Florida. His name was Bud and he had no teeth unless you count some little metal barbs sticking out of his gums. We talked about motorcycles, beards, guns, ex-wives, and various other topics commonly discussed in Central America.

Bud enjoyed hearing about my plans to conduct business in Nicaragua and assured me he would not be capitalizing on my ideas. With his hand on my shoulder he reiterated that I need not worry. His plans were to go back home, buy cheap cigarettes on the reservation, spend not a small amount of time at the casino, then see what happens.

Last night I saw Bud again and this time he had teeth. I told him they looked nice, which they did. His best set of teeth was stolen along with some jewelry he was fond of wearing. We chatted about old cars – a ’62 Impala 409 he used to have, a ’67 Corvette 427, among others.

He told me Jeb Bush wouldn’t give him his guns back. “Back from what?” I joked. Maybe he thought it was funny too but he didn’t laugh a whole lot. I asked him if he still carries a firearm. He does. He made it clear it’s best to call first when visiting his home in the mountains. He no longer calls Florida home but I will refrain from saying more.

I thought this was as good a time as any to switch the conversation over to crime. “Have you seen the documentary, ‘Cocaine Cowboys?’ He just stared at me. “It makes the argument that the city of Miami was built on cocaine money.”

“Did you see my picture in the movie?” he said, not joking.

“No, I don’t believe I did.”

“Son, they used to call me ‘Cocaine Cowboy’ in south Florida.”


He said he got busted moving 12 kilos of cocaine on his motorcycle, his 4th run of the day. He did less than 2 months time, which I thought was light.

“Did you roll on anybody?” I asked.


He told me that shaved 15 years off his sentence. I asked him if he had to look over both shoulders when he walked out the door after that. “Nah. Them guys were all dead before I got out.”

We talked a little more and he told me nobody else down here knows this stuff. Then he said if i was police, FBI, or any other agency, he’d kill me. I told him I work for a non-profit and sure hope that doesn’t qualify as an ‘agency.’

Right after that, he introduced me to a few other folks and told them I was a real good guy.

By the way, his name’s not Bud.



Thursday night I went by Republika in San Juan del Sur to see if they’d be watching the GA/Clemson football game Sat. night. The owner said it wouldn’t be a problem. I got there for kickoff and the bar was closed.

I went over to Big Wave Dave’s and told him about Republika. He said, “oh yeah, they’re not opening tonight. they’re coming over here later.” Dave got us set up to stream the game through his TV. It was a solid move on his part, really. I got a burger there and it was fantastic. Great by anybody’s standards. I knew I’d only get the game till halftime – he’d already committed to a 70’s kareoke party. Soon enough old people started rolling in, ready to get rowdy. I thanked Dave for his hospitality and moved on, full of optimism for my team and burger for strength.


Next stop was Dorado Bar, on the Malecon. Bob’s the owner there and a really nice guy. He’s got a great setup right on the beach. His clientele is generally gringos. A Clemson fan, who’s opening up a micro-brewery here btw, assured me the game would be back on after halftime. Bob switched the game over to Washington/Boise St. Half a dozen Huskies showed up and Bob broke the news that they had reserved the TV for their game. Outta there.

4th try:

El Pescador, further north on the beach road. Pieter, my Belgian friend and I walked in and by some miracle the Georgia game was on. We got a table and I ordered 2 Toñas with a smile on my face, ready for the second half.

“The Toñas are hot,” the waiter said. I feel that that’s an odd thing to say as a waiter in a place called “Bar y Restaurant; El Pescador.” So I ordered two Victoria. Also hot.

“What would you like to serve us then?” I asked.

“Why don’t you go to the bar next door – their beer is cold and they have the game on, too.”

Have you ever had a restaurant prefer you to go somewhere else? I’ll never get over the irony that they actually watching the game we were looking for.

5th try:

Nicaragua Sports Bar. Just soccer on, but the game was ending. They said they don’t get ABC so watching the game wasn’t an option.

6th try:

Went back to El Pescador. They turned the TV off I think just in case we came back. I asked if the game could be put back on. We were told to leave – that this place was only for people who were eating. I offered to buy but was refused.


I went back to my house which has a shared living room. Two old women were watching a

telenovela. I tried to watch the game online but was denied at every turn.

The old gals packed it in and I gave the channels a flip. I found the game no problem and got to watch the last 8 minutes of my team get beat by Clemson.