Sleeping At The Nicaragua/Costa Rica Border
6 Hour Nicaragua Border Nightmare
I knew I couldn't enter the room unless asked to by another officer. My mind wouldn't shut off wondering what we did to get us where we were. About 10 minutes went by and I was escorted to the room where BJ was sitting. He looked defeated. I had so many questions. I didn't know where to start. Trying to remain calm, my heart was about to burst out of my chest. BJ blurts out, 'they are trying to pin me for something I didn't do.' He kept on saying that the officer behind the desk; he just kept laughing at him when BJ would say it wasn't him. The man held a piece of paper with a mugshot on it. I could hardly contain myself.
I knew we had never been in Nicaragua, so I knew that it could not be him they were looking for. I have seen too many shows where people get in trouble for things that they didn't do. Here we were, in that exact situation. I kept trying to get a glimpse of the paper that the officer kept holding, staring at it. I couldn't see it clearly and my nerves were beyond crazy. I knew the man didn't speak English. But I asked anyways if I could see the paper that he was holding. I walked over to the desk and as soon as I saw the picture, I realized it was in fact my husband's face on the paper!
It was a mugshot of the time he had been arrested in High School for paraphernalia that was dismissed in court. I blurted out 'yes, that is you BJ, that is you!' He hadn't had the chance to look at the photo, right way up, until I had seen that it was him. The officer rotated the paper around so BJ could get a clear look.
As we feel some weight being lifted as the same young lady that spoke English at the border walked into the office. Our eyes got so big, we were so thankful to see her again. We knew that miscommunication would not be a good thing being in this position. We knew that she was there to help us translate between the two parties. Low and behold, we were told that we would now have to get a complete search on our vehicle, and go through every inch of the car, as well as ourselves if we wanted to proceed through into Nicaragua.
Remind you, this arrest was back when he was 15, he is now 33. Wouldn't you think that they would drop the cases after so many years? Well, not in Nicaragua. So, please go prepared. If you have ever been arrested, for anything, big or small, even if the case was dismissed, you will get pulled to the side and searched from top to bottom.
Vehicle Search, drug dogs and Interrogations
We knew that was not going to be a problem at all. We ask them to please proceed and do whatever they need to do so we can continue moving forward. We followed the Nicaraguan lady that spoke English across the street to get copies of our passports that were required. While we walked over, she kept asking me questions. She wanted to know why I didn't bring my kids with us when we drove and why we came by ourselves. I had absolutely nothing to hide. I was an open book and could answer every question she threw at me.
After receiving our copies, we walked back to where our truck was parked. A drug dog was brought into the truck to sniff the cab as well as the rear. I was asked to wait on the curb while BJ and a border patrol officer went to scan the truck through a scanner. I was so relieved. I knew we would be there for a little while longer, but as long as we were not going backwards, we were still winning.
Day quickly turned into night. We had to take everything off of the truck and place it on a luggage scanner. The last thing that was scanned was the drone. The man asked for BJ to open the drone box so he could see what was inside. He barely spoke any English, and would often use his phone translator to communicate with us.
Houston, we have a problem!
Knowing we were almost done, our hearts just about sank when he came back with 'we have a problem'.
He wouldn't quite say what the problem was, and I just thought 'here we go again'. Come to find out, drones are illegal in Nicaragua. Even being just transported through. We could either, have our drone taken from us and we could not receive it back until we leave Nicaragua. But first we would have to sit in customs for another 4-5 hours and have the drone inspected. We had already been at the border for about 6 hours, so there was no way in hell I wanted to go through customs again.
We pleaded with the man, begging for what we could do to be able to take it with us, and not have to go back through. We could tell he was in a pickle. Because he didn't want to upset us, nor did he want to lose his job. He knew that if we got caught having it, he would be the one it would come back on. We knew his job was important and we didn't want him to jeopardize what he had, for us. I think the sad looks (not purposely, stressed from the entire days events) on our faces was just enough to get us through.
After another of hour of going back and forth from him, to us, to the phone translator, he walked over to us and showed us his phone. It stated that he would allow us to go ahead with the drone, but only if the drone pieces were separate and scattered throughout the truck. BJ began taking the pieces out, as quickly as he could and place them in different spots, so that the drone box was almost completely empty, in case anyone asked to see what was inside. We shook and thanked the security officer very much for letting us through with the drone.
Sandwiches & No stops ahead.
At this point, we were starving and dying of thirst. Not even realizing it, we were the last vehicle in the parking lot. We had no idea what time it was or even where we were going once we actually got into Nicaragua. We were just ready to be there and not sitting in between borders.
Once we crossed over, we stopped at the first store we spotted on the side of the road. Knowing we hadn't gotten gas in Honduras, and not knowing when a gas station was going to appear, we asked the clerk how far until the next gas station. He actually came out to the truck to look at the tank and noted that we would be able to make it to Managua.
We bought two sandwiches, two cokes and two bags of chips for $4. Before getting caught up at the Nicaragua border for so long, we had intentions of stopping in Leon, Nicaragua. We knew it would take us about 3 1/2 hours to get to the Costa Rica border. Although I was ready for a bath, a bed and to be done for the night, BJ had the idea of us just driving on through Nicaragua into Costa Rica.
Moon Light views
We knew that it would be a little after midnight before we got there, but the thought of actually being there was enlightening. We had endured emotions we never thought we would as well as views that only people dream of. Seven days of driving non stop and only a few hundred miles to go, I was game for continuing on.
Although we did not get to see Nicaragua during the day, we were able to drive next to the lake and could spot how gigantic it was from the light of the moon. We often can see it from the air when flying into Costa Rica from the States. We were happy, yet scared and nervous at the same time because this would be our third border crossing in one day. We knew we were not going to hire any runner for this trip, we did it once, we knew we could do it again.
Paradise within arms reach.
We see 'Welcome To Costa Rica' signs and my face beamed with excitement. We made it. We pull up to the neon vested guard that was sitting next to a light pole near the middle of the road. He had his clipboard in his hand and spoke to us in Spanish. We didn't understand much of what he was saying. We knew it was late, and had never crossed a border at night, so we were unsure of the night scene.
He directed us to the customs parking lot and had us open the truck so he could inspect the belongings inside as well the luggage on the luggage rack. It took him less than 5 minutes to scramble through all the stuff. We look at each other shocked because, we could hardly believe our truck was ready to proceed into Costa Rica.
They didn't keep the lights on for us.
We knew the next thing was for us to get our passports stamped out of Nicaragua and into Costa Rica. The customs building looked dark inside and there didn't seem to be anyone there. Confused, we had asked where to go. As the words he spoke rolled off of his tongue and entered my ears 'cerrado', ('cerrado' means 'closed' in Spanish.) I felt defeated. I felt like the lady in the State Farm commercial that says, 'what a day, what a day'.
When I am upset, I'm known to be very vocal. This time around, I couldn't say one single word. No restroom, no bed, no food or drink (so glad we had those sandwiches earlier in Nicaragua), and no shower.
The man told us that the gate would open at 6 the following morning, and here it was 12:30am. Little did we know or do any research to find out, that the border closes from 11pm - 6 am.
I grabbed my pillow that had been laying in the back seat, laid my seat back as far as I could and went to sleep.