I rode in my first moto-taxi the other day, commonly referred to in the Embassy community as tuk-tuks, like the ones you’d see in South East Asia. A Nicaraguan would have no idea what you were talking about if you called them tuk-tuks. Nicaraguans call them moto-taxis or Caponeras.
The name Caponera comes from a Colombian telenovela (soap opera) that was popular about 10 years ago. The heroine of the show, known as La Caponera, was a beautiful woman who was a good-luck charm in cock fights. When she was around, her rooster won. Of course, there was competition among the rooster fighters, battling for her attention and the luck she brought to their roosters. In the show, she rode around a lot in bicycle-powered vehicles. Somehow, at least in Managua, the name got transferred from the bike-powered taxis to the moto-taxis that were gaining popularity at the time. At least that’s the story that I can piece together by talking with a few people and reading an article from a local newspaper.
Taxis and buses are used to cross town, but Caponeras are used for shorter distances, or within neighborhoods. At the main entrance to large neighborhoods there are often a few Caponeras waiting to take people farther in to places where the buses don’t go. Here are a few of the Caponera drivers that hang out at the entrance to our neighborhood. One even has a stereo-system built into his vehicle!