It was an extremely long day getting from DC to our condo in Nicaragua. After landing in Managua and picking up our rental car (where we were taken through the most thorough rental car inspection of our lives!) we headed south to Playa Coco. We were all a bit nervous about the two hour trip because we heard that signage wasn’t that good and the directions we were given were shoddy at best. No worries though, Rob and I are always up for a little adventure. Or so we thought…
Rob and I have traveled the globe and we have never had any issues driving in a foreign land. After being in country for just a few short hours, and in the car for only two hours, we were pulled over not once, but TWICE! Each time, the police officer got Rob’s driver’s license in hand and basically held it for ransom. Rob and Tami were doing an excellent job using their linguistic skills to try to get us out of a sticky situation while I just sat there wondering what the hell the three of them were saying. Me = no habla.
How it all began:
Unsure if we were driving in the right direction, we decided to turn around to look at the road signs once more and then we pulled to the side of the road to get our bearings straight. Cue traffic stop #1. A police officer pulled up next to us and began listing off all the illegal components of our maneuver. Rob and Tami’s apologetic pleas were getting us nowhere with this police officer. He clearly wanted money, not our pathetic excuses about being confused with our directions. And judging by the way he kept listing off the infractions one by one, this was not going to be cheap. With Rob’s license in his hand he got back on his motorcycle (or maybe it was a moped, I can’t recall) and told us to follow him. We were certain we were going to end up at some police station and pay dearly for the very minor traffic infractions. Instead, he led us just a short way up the road where we talked with two (much nicer and more understanding) police officers. Rob and Tami explained our confusion and apologized for the “illegal” U-turn and other assorted “crimes.” Thankfully, the nice officer pointed us in the right direction and sent us on our way, sans extortion.
At traffic stop #2, we weren’t so lucky. There were police officers standing in the road and they just waved us to pull over for another alleged “infraction.” The officer quickly got Rob’s license in hand and then he just walked away. We just sat there for about ten minutes waiting to see what was going to happen. Finally, Rob got out of the car to see what was going on. Apparently, the officer was just sitting in his little police shack, doing nothing, letting us just sweat it out. He told Rob that we had to pay 400 cordoba (about $16) to get his license back. If we didn’t have the money he was going to send his license to the court building and we would have to go there to pay the fine. Rob handed him 150 cordoba and told him that was all we had. The officer quickly asked what else we could give him. Rob knew he was fishing for American dollars and told him the only other thing we had were credit cards. He begrudgingly handed over the license and sent us on our way.
Our first day driving in Nicaragua was not a pleasant experience. Moral of the story…when driving in Nicaragua and a vehicle-less police officer flags you to pull over….ignore him and keep driving! Since this all happened on day 1 of our trip, I have a feeling we will have ample opportunity to test out this theory.
Our anticipated two hour trip to Playa Coco took much longer, but we arrived at our condo just in time to see the sun setting on the beach. Our condo is fabulous and the view is amazing!