Corrupt police and missing license.

Trip Start Dec 22, 2006
Trip End Feb 10, 2008

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Still hot under the collar Michael woke up on Friday June 15, 2007 ready and eager to hit the Police Station in order to plead his case on the fraudulent ticket he had received.  We rolled up to the Station at 8:00am, which is when we were told the office would open, however it was still closed.  Walking around town and reading our English-Spanish dictionary we had rehearsed a few sentences to argue our position.  We returned at 8:30am and the doors to the Traffic Division were finally open.  Talking with the Officers on duty, we learned that in order to fight a ticket we needed to speak with the boss and he was off until Monday.  Of course, that is just our luck.  We were put in touch with an English speaking person at the precinct that was willing to help us write a letter to the boss explaining our case.  Things started to be looking up, until she said that appeals take at minimum one week to get results.  There was no way we intended on sitting around Rivas for a week, for a small moral victory, given that the price of the ticket was only $12 USD.  The agent also informed us that we did not receive a ticket for speeding, rather for failing to obey a posted sign...whatever that means.  Humbled by the lengthy process, we agreed to pay the ticket.  Now comes the catch...Michael's license had not been turned in by the Police Officer that issued the ticket and he would not be coming to Rivas until later that day around 2:00pm.  It was only 9:00am and we had an entire day to kill in Rivas and there was really nothing to do or see.  Oh well, we had to make the best of it.

We knocked off some routine grocery shopping before deciding to hit an Internet Café to catch up on e-mails.  That plan was quickly foiled as the major storm the night before had knocked out the internet signal to the entire town and the service at ATM machines was also down.  Running low on money, we decided to continue walking and window shopping as we could not afford to spend a dime.  Michael was feeling ill all day and could barely eat anything besides crackers and soup.  Angry, sick and tired, he was not the most pleasant person to be around for six hours roaming some random town.  We did have fun cruising around the street market and passed time trying on shoes, hats and clothing of all sorts.  There sure are some odd fashions going on down here.  A few basic rules of Nicaraguan fashion include wearing camouflage of any colour loud and proud and be sure to accent any outfit with wedge style foam flip-flops and a gaudy belt.  Maybe this is fashion back home as well, but we are so out of the loop that we have no idea.

At 1:00pm, we checked in at the Police Station and the license had still not arrived.  The agent assured us that it would be there by 2:00pm as she had talked with the Officer directly.  On this advice, we set out for the bank to pay off the ticket.  Banpro was the only bank in Rivas with a working ATM machine.  We waited patiently in the long line, however at our turn the machine rejected our card.  Of course it did.  We then went inside the bank to pay our traffic ticket, but were sent away on the instruction that Banpro's system was down and tickets were not able to be processed.  Fearing that we would be stuck in Rivas for yet another day, we sought out our alternatives.  The clerk at Banpro directed us to BDF, another financial institution down the street and we hustled there without delay.  Getting in yet another long line, we waited on aching legs for our turn at the teller.  The helpful lady behind the counter filled out some forms and sent us back to a side office to get some official banking slip to complete our transaction.  Thankfully, we bypassed the ever growing line for our second trip to the counter.  We handed over the cash and received a receipt that we needed to take back to the Police Station.  It was shortly after 2:00pm when we returned to the Station and as Michael pushed open the sticky door to the Traffic Division, he hit a Police Officer right in the back between the shoulder blades with the leading edge of the door.   The Officer grunted as he jumped forward and looked back startled.  It was then that Michael gained a small victory as the Officer he had shocked and winded was the guy that had given him the ticket the day before.  Yes!  We exchanged our bank receipt for the license and hightailed it out of Rivas to avoid any further contact with the now angered Officer.

Twelve kilometres down the CA-1 highway we reached our turnoff to San Juan del Sur.  It was only a short 18 kilometres further, however the state of the road made it feel like 180.  The road would start out nicely paved and smooth for roughly 2 kilometres before it turned into a kilometre of dirt road riddled with massive pot holes.  This smooth to rough, to smooth again pattern continued for the entire 18 kilometres.  By the time we reached San Juan del Sur, Geraldine was exhausted from hanging onto the door handle.

The day was not the sunniest, so we opted to head to the internet café as we had been without internet service for over a week.  Our lack of contact with anyone at home became evident when we started reading emails from anxious family members.  It had been eight days since anyone had heard from us and they had started to get worried.  It is amazing how fast time can pass you by when you have no schedule and never even wear a watch.  We were in the midst of replying to the concerned emails when the skies opened up outside and poured rain down on the town. We were happy to have been in the internet café rather than on the beach.  Having put uneasy family members to rest, we headed out to find a place to camp for the night.  As we were unfamiliar with the town, and knew nothing of how secure or insecure street parking might be, we looked for a hostel or hotel that offered protected parking.  Our first attempt did not offer parking to anyone but hotel guests, however they did direct us to a public parking lot next to Casa Blanca.  As we neared the parking lot, we determined that it would be perfect for us.  It was right in the middle of town, had 24 hour surveillance and there was ample room to park 'Nilla.  Now we just had to hope that the price would be perfect.  In talking to the security guard, we were advised that the cost would be C$100 per night.  $5 simply to camp was a tad too steep for us, however when he mentioned that we could have access to electricity as well as a bathroom, we agreed to stay.  As the nights get rather hot in the lowlands, it has become important to us to be able to plug in and run our fan at night without killing our battery.  It is essential to keep the battery relatively full as it ignites our refrigerator pilot.  Throw in bathrooms and all of a sudden $5 seemed like a great deal.  To top that off, the guard even agreed to let us shower if we were up by 5:00 am.  We were not sure why it had to be so early, but 5:00 am sounded good to us as it had been several days since our last bathing opportunity.  We parked 'Nilla and prepared dinner.

Seeing as how we were in the middle of town, we were surrounded on all sides by bars and restaurants.  The catchy music was too much for us to take and after dinner we changed into clean clothes and headed out to see the town.  First stop of the evening was a mellow beach front restaurant.  The setting was beautiful.  We chose a table at the edge of the patio and stared out at the beach.  The sounds of the ocean lapping up on shore were a nice accompaniment to the soothing music wafting from the speakers.  We were one of two couples in the restaurant and after our first drink it became clear that the servers were ready to bring their work day to an end.  Not ones to hold up tired staff, we paid our bill and followed a new tune down the road.  This music was more upbeat and lively and as we neared Marie's Bar we could make out some distinct 1980's songs.  We decided that Marie's must be the place to go.  How right we were.  It seemed as if everyone in town had congregated there.  We entered the establishment and ordered a couple of drinks.  The bar was simply one large room with a handful of table and chairs lining the perimeter.  We imagine on some nights there is a dance floor, however tonight there was barely any room to walk, never mind dance.  We stood with our drinks for a while until a table with four chairs opened up.  Thinking it would be easier to watch the scene from the edge of the room, rather than the middle, we headed over to the empty table.  Manoeuvring through the horde of people had slowed us down and by the time we reached the table, there were two other guys just sitting down.  They both spoke English and invited us to join them.  Unfortunately for Geraldine she chose the seat next to the extremely inebriated Mr. Spits-when-he-talks.  She spent the remainder of the evening not only wiping her face and arms, but also trying to convince Mr. Spits-when-he-talks that spending his nights in a bar while his wife sits at home is not going to fix his marriage problems.  For some reason he could not grasp the concept, so eventually Geraldine had to excuse herself and go to the bathroom.  There were two bathrooms to choose from.  The Ladies Room on the right, which had a long line-up, or the Men's Room to the left which had no line up.  She stood in the Ladies line for five minutes before realizing that the floor to the Ladies Room was covered in water.  Apparently the toilet was plugged, yet still being used.  Not wanting any part of that scene, she bypassed the line-up and used the Men's Room.

When she got back to the table where Michael was waiting, they both decided that it was time to head home as the clock on the wall read 1:30 am.  Immediately upon exiting the bar, Michael smelt street meat on a barbeque.  It had been hours since we had eaten dinner and he was once again hungry.  In true Calgary fashion, he ordered himself a fifty cent hot dog, which he devoured on the short walk across the street to our 'Nilla.
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