Meet Your Driver: Aarón Álvarez

Aarón Álvarez - May 19, 2023
 Aarón Álvarez is an immigrant who escaped the Nicaraguan revolution; today, he drives for Lyft while he pursues his dream of becoming a director.
Illustration by Natalie Foss

For our “Meet Your Driver” series, Rev asked several Lyft drivers to write about their lives, in their words. These are their stories.

I’m a film student. It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was young. But it took me decades to get here.

I was born in Nicaragua. Growing up there, I loved pretending I was a clown in the circus. I would perform for my friends and kids in the neighborhood. I would wear my mom’s makeup and dress in different costumes. One time, I used one of my shirts to make a costume. It was a dress shirt, and I cut it up to make it smaller. My mom got very upset with me because getting clothes there isn’t as easy as it is in the United States. My family had a dog—a Chihuahua mix—that I would put in a tutu. 

I wanted to be a storyteller when I grew up.

I was seven years old when the Nicaraguan revolution happened. There was political and religious persecution. There were dead bodies out in the open. My grandfather, who I really admired, was disappeared. He was a storyteller, too. He performed on the radio. You can find some of his recordings online today.

My dad built an underground bunker for us to live in. We had no electricity and almost no food and water. We lived like that for months.

My parents sent me out of the country to escape the violence. The rest of my family eventually followed. We first lived in Panama, then we moved to Israel, and eventually, we settled in New York.

Those experiences really affected me. I decided I wanted to tell stories about the impact war has on kids. But my life took a different path.

What happened was my music career took off first. I played in a Spanish punk rock band in New York. We got signed by a big company and went on tours all over. Later, I started working for some of the biggest labels in the world. I did a little bit of everything: sales, marketing, merchandise. 

About five years ago, in my mid-40s, I was laid off. I decided it was finally time to follow what I consider my first dream. I want to tell stories about war that I’ve thought about for so many years. So I enrolled in film school, and I began working on independent films. 

I love any opportunity that allows me to be on set—either as a crew member or operating the camera or doing boom (that means microphone). I edit. I also do a lot of acting. I do a lot of background work. I’ve even been a body double. 

In the future, I want to direct my own films. I’m working on a few scripts. One of them is a documentary about child victims of war. 

Today, I’m a U.S. citizen. I haven’t been back to my birth country since I left. I have a lot of anger about what happened and a lot of bad memories. But recently I’ve been thinking about going back and taking some of my film projects to work on. I think it would be an opportunity to do something constructive.