Hassled by policia – finally


One of the things I’ve wondered about as I approach my 11th month in Costa Rica (April 30), is how you can remain in country this long without someone demanding to see your passport to verify you are here legally. Sure, I have to show my passport card when using my credit card but otherwise it hasn’t been needed. If I was an expat who had to leave the country every 90 days, like most, there doesn’t seem to be any enforcement – unless I decide to leave the country. I understand you might get a fine then as they deport you.

Well I finally was hassled, but it almost bordered on the absurd.

Occasionally, I like to walk to the beach late at night to sit and listen to the waves, while I also listen to music. It’s a three-block walk that does require crossing the main street.

This week, as I was heading back from the beach, I noticed three cops searching a Tico in front of a bar, as I crossed the main drag some 30 yards away. As I reached the side street leading to my apartment complex, the policia, in their small pickup, zoomed around the corner and cut me off. Three Lilliputian cops tumbled out. I felt like I was dealing with children, albeit ones with guns and batons.

They first asked for my “documentos,” meaning my passport. I normally don’t carry my passport card on these late-night walks, nor do I carry it when I do my morning beach walk. I did not have it this time, either. I told them my documento was in my apartmento and showed them the key. Then it gets comical.

I had to empty my pockets – my key and a lighter. Then I had to put my hands on the hood of the truck as they felt the outside of my pockets. Having satisfied their concerns that I was not some sort of drug dealer or whatever they thought, the three small ones tumbled back into their truck and literally sped off. They never did check my documentos.

This is what passes for the police in Jaco.

About 2bagsandapack

Lifetime journalist, author, magazine editor and publisher, now semi-retired and traveling the world. My plan, after living in Costa Rica for 14 months, was to visit a new country in southern Europe every three months to experience the culture and the challenge of adapting to a new environment, while on a fixed income. That plan was sidetracked when I was offered a job in Indonesia, providing an opportunity to explore Asia. Indonesia lasted for a 4 wonderful years but I have now moved on to Hua Hin, Thailand.
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