Coima, Mordida and Santa Elena

Trip Start Dec 14, 2007
1
152
300
Trip End Nov 04, 2008


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Where I stayed
Tucan - $12 pp, ensuite, basic

Flag of Costa Rica  ,
Monday, May 26, 2008

Sorry everyone, no photographs today...by the time we arrived at Santa Elena it was 1pm and suddenly the rain started, so we have not been able to do any activities apart from driving to the destination and a short walk.

What we did experience is the Costa Rican police ethical division. We were travelling along Rute 1 (Pan American) from La Fortuna to Santa Elena. Marcos was on the wheel and apparently driving over the speed limit which was 60kms hour...

We probably were doing about 80 kms hour and the limit in the Rute 1 is 90 kms hour, but the police pointed at a sign the size of his brain which said 60 kms. He then showed us the speed machine which stated 99 kms hour! To start with Marcos has tested this car (Dahitsu Be Go 4x4) during a week and we can hardly pass 80 on a downhill so it was very suspicious that the machine showed 99. Additionally the police man was not pointing it at us from the distance. There was 2 police and they were chating in another direction.

In any case, we were stopped and they asked for driving license. As Marcos had his passport at hand he handed that first and asked Vero to pass the driving license. The policeman no longer wanted the driving license (suspicion number 2) nor the papers of the car (suspicion number 3)

He went to talk with his colleague and then came back and said..."the fine is $20,000" (which is about 25 euros so not a hell of a lot of money). He started filing in the paper...but very, very slowly...exactly at the speed of not writing on the fine paper (i.e. he was faking as if he was writing but was just moving the pen).

He then turned to me and said "how long are you going to be in Costa Rica". We said "2 weeks", so he went quiet and then said "you have sufficient time to pay but if you dont you will have problems passing the airport control". He then said "its probably better if we make an arrangement here and you would save 30% of administration costs and taxes"....there it was....he was asking for money!

We decided it was better to pay the guy and avoid the hastle...so Marcos asked "how much?" and he said "you decide, but I think that avoiding the admin costs and taxes is sufficient reduction"....so we handed $20,000 colones to him and off we went...no fine, no issue.

We later thought we could had bartered a lot, but probably not worth getting into trouble for 10 euros.

That is one of the reasons why we havent previously rent a car in the Americas...and Costa Rica is theoretically the best of the lot after Chile! Anyway, for those not used to the words... when the police or other officials ask for money its called "coima" or "mordida".

Just in case we are keeping well under the speed limit and looking for small signs  (no joke about this) with reduction of speed!!

Anyway, here we are in Santa Elena which is next to Monteverde. Both are national parks with cloud forrests and a large amount of wildlife. We have decided that as it is raining strongly and it is already past 4pm that we will get up early tomorrow and visit Santa Elena. It will take at least 5-6 hours so not worth cramming in the rain today.

There is little else to do in the town, so we will just have a few beers, dinner, a short walk and some interneting (the most expensive place yet for internet...$3 dollars the hour).

Tomorrow afternoon we will travel to the Pacific Coast to visit another couple of national parks, before finishing our Costa Rica phase next Monday when Steffi goes back and Vero and Marcos go towards Nicaragua (on a bus again....)
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