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Passing Fake Documents to Get in and Checkpoints to Get Out

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Stack of travel postcards of a dog riding on the back of a woman's motorcycle

Leaving Nicaragua was a lot harder than getting in, which is rarely the way with border crossings.

After realizing that my vehicle registration document had gone missing, we were magically able to pass a color copy of the title in place of the real thing.

This surprised us enormously since, on one hand, these were the least obliging border officials we had so far encountered while, on the other hand, the color copy was misaligned, single-sided, and absent the holographic watermark of the original.

But now, a few weeks later, the whole of Nicaragua seemed dead-set on preventing our escape.

Man talks with soldier while woman and dog sit on motorcycle

We set off from a beachside hostel after a breakfast of scrambled eggs and fried green plantains.

The seaside route, which parallels the Pan-American was traced in rough gravel and lined with pickets of earth-moving machines.

Detachments of the Nicaraguan army were also present at no less than three checkpoints along a mere 20-km stretch.

With the retaining tether slack across the road at the first outpost, we continued past while the soldiers reviewed the contents of a sedan.

Apparently, these sentries radioed ahead and we were stopped at the next checkpoint and our entire motorcycles’ contents were reviewed.

Thirty minutes later and repacked, we pressed on to reach the border where we expected to discover a road leading inland toward the Pan-American.

Instead, we encountered another outpost where we were again reviewed, searched, and this time turned around.

“There’s no connecting road,” one of the soldiers informed us. “You’ll have to double-back to the road at Playa Remanso.”

As we retraced our steps, we were again stopped by the checkpoint who made several radio calls before waving us on.

Then we reached the first outpost where the slack line was now menacingly taught and multiple, grim-faced soldiers stood with weapons at attention as we drew in.

This review of our documents and outfit was the most comprehensive of all. Never less than entirely professional and respectful, but also thorough and penetrating.

Eventually, we were reprimanded for riding over the slack line before we were waved through.

Now many sunny, sweaty hours since we had set off, we were back where we started to make a new attempt at leaving Nicaragua.

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