We had an interesting experience in Nicaragua. We didn't know what to make of it at first, but let's see if you come to the same conclusion we did.
We were driving from Granada to the Honduras border on our way home. At this point, we had been let into Nicaragua, out of Nicaragua and back in again. That meant crossing the border and dealing with officials three times. As you might remember, we had some difficulty at those stops and had to get lots of paperwork.
So we are about twenty miles from the Honduran border when we come across a police checkpoint. That's a pretty common thing in Central America, every so often you go through a checkpoint and depending on your license plates, the tinting of your windows and other various factors you may or may not be pulled over. Since we had Honduras plates in Nicaragua, we got pulled over. This was not the first time that happened in that country.
The officer walks over to the car and we give him our paperwork. He then starts asking us a bunch of questions, including asking if we had the car fumigated when leaving Costa Rica. Of course, we don't speak that much Spanish, so he is pantomiming the act complete with whooshing sounds. Yes, we had that done. No, we don't have the receipt since it was a week ago. Ok, no problem. Then he starts asking for something else. Um.....
Finally it clicks. He is asking for our insurance papers. Well, we don't have those. In Honduras, you can only get insurance if a car is less than 10 years old or something like. In Costa Rica, they made us buy insurance, and we would not have been able to leave the border crossing without it. In the three times at the Nicaragua border, no one said anything about insurance, and they had previously sent us back for not having all the paperwork. Well, this could be a problem.
So the officer has Zach step out of the car and go over to the police car with his partner. Then they show him what the insurance paperwork looks like, and hey, it comes with handy dandy road cones. Where are our road cones? What do you mean you don't have those? So Zach says ok, you have a stack of those insurance papers right there, give me one to fill out and I'll go back to the closest town and a bank to pay for it. No no, that's not necessary. Um ok, you're giving me a hard time for not having insurance, but now you're telling me I don't need to buy it?
That's when the conversation got really weird. The policeman says "Dos." That's it. Just "Dos." Zach says "Dos what?" What do you want two of? There's two cones. There's two of you. There's two of us. So he says it again. "Dos." Cue more confusion from Zach. After a moment, the policemen laugh, give Zach back the paperwork and tell him we can leave. So he comes back to the car, starts it up and the officer yells over at us again. He comes over, fixes our headlight which was off-kilter, and waves us off. Down the road we go.
Ten minutes later, we hit another checkpoint and get pulled over again. This time, they take our passports and car registration, glance at it and send us on our way. No mention of insurance at all.
So, what do you think? Was that the world's worst way of asking for a bribe? And if so, do you think he would have been satisfied with two Cordobas ($.07)?