HOW YOU SAY "JAIL" IN SPANISH
Trip Start Dec 14, 2011
22Trip End Jan 05, 2012
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After a week of really enjoying Nicaragua we leave today to go to Costa Rica. Nicaragua is a wee bit of a hidden gem; overshadowed by its political past and poor economic situation. With a few exceptions (see Dec 16 post and below), it is an easy and pleasurable country in which to travel and the people are genuinely kind and welcoming.
But it doesn't take much police corruption to totally ruin a good time. We rose early today to make the hour drive from Granada, Nicaragua to the airport in Managua. Driving in Nicaragua, generally, has been non-stressful and relatively easy; this morning's drive had been no different. Until.....
.....one mile from the airport, our car was singled out from all the traffic by a policeman who motioned me to pull over. It was deja vu all over again. He rattled off my infraction in Spanish and drew me a picture of what I assumed to be an illegal lane change in the round-about through which I had just driven. There are, by the way, no lanes to change in the round-about and I was following the exact path of the ten cars in front of me. But, whatever, those facts are known by him and me and everyone else. He has contrived the infraction for his own corrupt purposes. Since we were down to our last hour in Nicaragua, we had worked our way down to only 300 Cordoba ($15). I offered it to him, he indicated it wasn't enough, I indicated it was all I had and put it into his hands. Fortunately, he took it, handed back my driver's license and allowed us to drive off.
Are you tired yet of cop stories? Well, I am sorry, but I am not done yet.
One half mile later, and a half mile from the airport, I drove (very carefully) through another roundabout. As I pulled out of the roundabout following the twenty cars in front of me, a policeman stepped in front of my car and motioned me over. It is a little hard to maintain one's composure when confronted with this kind of in-your-face and seemingly endless, corruption. When this policeman started drawing a by-now-familiar picture of my lane-change infraction, Linda started to give him her view of things. Through his angry glare I heard him spit out a Spanish word that sounded an awful lot like "incarceration"; I strongly suggested to Linda that she be quiet. For this jerk, I had to get out of the car and into my suitcase to pull out my extra US currency to pay him. He wouldn't accept one $20 bill; I had to give him two. Thank God there were no more round-abouts in the last half-mile to the airport.
It is very irritating that such good feelings about a country can be destroyed in minutes by the acts of these corrupt police. Maybe I will get over it and remember the good things about Nicaragua, but I ain't there yet.
Anyway, enough of that. Off now to Costa Rica!