Border Crossing Scam - Day 560
It was time to move on back to Costa Rica. Passing an 8km queue, a teary farewell and a border scam we finally were greeted by Mandela's son. Surely not!
Eve kindly offered to drive us to the border, saving us two bus rides. She is a sweetie, and so generous, giving me a beautiful pair of trousers, a 240-hour insect repellent band, a beautiful bracelet and then packed lunch for us.
We piled in Rexy boy for the last time. As we drove towards Lake Nicaragua, (Its indigenous name is Cocibolca, meaning “sweet sea.”) we had a perfect view of the Concepción Volcano that Tim and Eve climbed.
When we arrived in Nicaragua 23 days ago, the terrain was dry and brown. The difference now is astonishing, so lush and green. The country needs to learn from Sri Lanka and build reservoirs so it can save its water. Mind you; the country does pretty well with its renewable energy with much of its electricity coming from wind, solar, and geothermal sources. It is aiming for 90% renewables by 2020.
Back on the road, as we were getting towards the border, we came across juggernauts queuing. Eve overtook a few then realised that the line went on and on. In the end, we passed 8 kilometres of lorries. It can take the drivers days to cross over to Costa Rica, so we have heard. Wouldn't it be quicker for them to drive the 400km around the lake to the other empty border?
I am sure Zoe knew we were leaving; she was very loving to me in the car, kept leaning and snuggling her face on me.
We eventually arrived, all jumped out of the car and walked to the passport control. Hugs and a few tears flowed; we did have a special time with these adorable ladies.
We paid our US$1 and then was told to put US$12 in our passports ready to pay a departure fee. Mmm...did we really need to pay this?
As we were about to leave the building, two dodgy looking men said we had to pay them more money. When asked why, they muttered, "for protection". We instinctively knew this was a scam. I responded "Protection from what?" and Tim asked for their ID. They both seemed a bit agitated, and when they saw me look for a police officer, they waved us through.
This incident happened in an official building. Doesn't that depict the type of corruptness happening in this country? Sad, very sad.
We walked over to the Costa Rican border. What a difference; no con, no disrespect, just pleasant, friendly people.
Two buses and two hours later we were at an empty Liberia Airport. After finishing our lunch, we waited at the check-in desk, no-one to be seen. Eventually, we were served. Not only were our bags weighed, but so were we! Tim quickly realised we would be flying in a small aeroplane.
Yes, 14 of us flew the 30 minutes flight to San Jose and we were picked up by our hosts Leila and Rodolfo. Oh my, is Rodolfo Nelson Mandela's son? What a resemblance (the photo doesn't do justice)