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Renewing my Nicaragua Tourist Card–an exercise in endurance!

May 29, 2012

I have been in Nicaragua since February, but I left for a week to visit Costa Rica.  When you enter the country you generally (not always) get a 90 day tourist card, which I did when I returned in early March.  After 90 days you have to leave the country or you can renew it in the country once.  This reason is why I hitched a ride to the capital,Managua, to renew my tourist card.  It is possible to pay a fine at the airport when you actually do leave the country (as I will in early July), but I did not want to deal with the unknown at 5am when I need to arrive for my flight. My friend, Sharon, had to go to Managua for her business so I asked to go along. She dropped me at Metro Centre Mall and helpfully took the time to show me where the Immigration office was. She also asked (in Spanish) for the form I needed to purchase and complete.  Previously she had told me to get copies of certain pages of my passport. Then she left.

I was at the end of a very long line and it was hot (nothing new for Nicaragua, but I assumed that malls were air-conditioned which this one was not). I attempted to complete the form which obviously was in Spanish, but could not understand a few parts even with my trusty dictionary. I asked the young man in front of me if he knew what I should check in one section and he asked me some things in Spanish which I did not completely understand. He ended it with “you don’t speak Spanish?” (in English) in kind of an unbelieving tone. Sigh! I really thought I was progressing. After two hours of sweating and standing, my back was killing me and I was going deaf from the crying kids and loud music that played off and on. Can’t blame the kids, it was totally boring and really hot.

Finally, I was allowed into the actual room where you get the new tourist card.  Yea! It was air-conditioned!  I waited another 30 minutes and when I got to the front of the line the immigration officer told me I did not have a copy of the correct page.  Arrgh!  He sent me out to the mall and told me to get the page he marked copied (it was the page with the Nicaraguan entry stamp).  I paid the guy who copied it and returned to the room and went right to the front of the line which I figured was the correct way to handle it as he had the rest of my papers. After he looked at everything and asked me a few questions (in Spanish) which I was able to understand and answer –yea! He told me I needed to pay Un Mil Córdoba which is 1000 Córdoba or $44.

Then he said to sit and wait because the woman who handled tourist cards was out.  By then I was exhausted so I sat on the steps as all the chairs were taken and waited.  Finally the appropriate woman returned eating an ice cream cone, disappeared behind the desk, shuffled papers and stamped some things (I couldn’t see her, only hear her) and then called my name.Mission accomplished and it only took 3 hours!

Sharon met me at the mall and we did a little shopping and then had lunch.  She drove to a different area of town for lunch and at a stoplight a man came up to the car and told her she needed new wipers. She actually did and so he had her pull over to the side of the road and installed them right there and then poured a bottle of water on the windshield so she could test them.  She paid him and drove off to the restaurant.

The restaurant was packed even though by now it was 2pm.  I saw they had key lime pie which I love, so I just had an appetizer for lunch and the pie.  I am sorry I did not have my camera as it was unlike any key lime pie I ever had. It had a fairly thick crumb crust, a layer of something brown above that and then the “key lime” filling which was tan. On top it had a drizzle of something like caramel.  It did have a tart taste, but it was not what I expected.

We arrived back in Granada around 4pm (it is only a 45 minute to an hour drive) and Sharon dropped me at my house. I did manage to drag myself to Mojito Friday as I had promised to meet a woman I had first met last week to confirm a time for dinner that weekend.  As I was walking home, the electricity went out for two hours. After stumbling though the really dark streets, I sat in the main house and talked to my housemates (in Spanish of course).  It was too hot to go to bed because there were no fans.  Finally I showered and fell into bed, my brain exhausted, and the fan blowing on high.


From → Granada

One Comment
  1. Harry permalink

    The things you get yourself into…


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