The Fifth Driver

by Sylvia Nablo de Vasquez
San Ignacio, Belize

When my husband Yovanny was a child, his family was upper middle class Honduran, but when his father retired their standard of living was considerably reduced. So, in hopes of making a better living, in his late teens Yovanny left on a journey to live illegally in the U.S.A.

On the way he got stuck in Mexico for six months, and survived by peddling candy in the street. He ate nothing but tortillas and hot peppers, because hot peppers make you feel less hungry, and they’re cheap. Once he passed out from hunger in the street.

Our family’s life is considerably better than that now. We run my parents’ bread bakery in a small town in Belize, and have three daughters. Sometimes we have nothing to eat but beans and bread, but we always have *something* to eat.

One night in May, 2002, we were exhausted from work so my husband scrounged for some money and took our kids out to get Chinese food. While waiting for his order, Yovanny noticed two women with a tiny baby. They stopped a taxi, spoke to the driver, and the taxi left.

The Fifth DriverThey hailed another taxi, spoke to the driver, but it just left. A third cab also left without them. Then they spoke to a bus driver, yet didn’t get on the bus. Noticing their very worried expressions, Yovanny approached to ask what was happening.

They were suspicious of him, but explained they were trying to get home. Early that afternoon, they had traveled to pick up money owed to them but the person didn’t pay them. They had no money to get home, and had been walking for hours.

They just couldn’t walk anymore and their home was a 20-minute drive away. They had asked the taxi and bus drivers to give them a free ride, but all had refused.

Yovanny said, “I don’t have money to give you because I just spent it all on our supper. I’ll give you a ride home.” He assured them that they’d be safe with him by pointing to our children playing nearby. He explained he understood their feelings because of his experiences in Mexico. He said they were in a more difficult situation than he had been, because they had a tiny baby to look after.

They finally agreed to get into the car. Our home was on the way, so Yovanny dropped our supper off, and called me outside to meet the women and explain why he would be late. They were so exhausted and frightened that they barely managed to say hello. Yovanny got two loaves of bread from the bakery so the women would have something to eat that day.

Perhaps it was no accident that we didn’t cook for ourselves that night. I can only imagine what might have happened to these ladies without a ride. Thankfully, my big-hearted husband came along… and cared enough to overcome their fears and help.

Originally published as HeroicStories #455 on Oct 23, 2003

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