Crossing into Costa Rica … Twice
It was our first border crossing and we fucked it up.
Some how, some way we walked into Costa Rica without the proper stamps and no one noticed …
… until we reach the second police check point.
The officer said we were illegal immigrants and brought us into his road side shack. He ran background checks on us, made sure we weren’t terrorists, drug traffickers or pedophiles, and ordered us to return to the immigration office.
An hour’s drive back.
Other than accidentally smuggling ourselves across international borders, the day went surprisingly well.
We got the damn stamps and hitched rides with four different truck drivers.
The first was a Nicaraguan transporting hamburger meat.
The second was a Honduran carrying 50,000 pounds of cardboard for banana boxes.
The third was an El Salvadoran hauling cement with a “prison look” in his eyes.
And the fourth trucker, the one we spent the most time with, was a Guatemalan driving an empty flat bed to San Jose. His name was Marvin. He took us all the way to our couchsurfer in Naranjo, a small city in the middle of the Costa Rica.
I asked Marvin about his country’s recent elections. Former General Otto Pérez won over the weekend and became the first ex-military official to win presidency since the end of Guatemalan military dictatorships. Human rights groups accuse Pérez of being directly involved with systematic torture and genocide in Guatemala during the 1980s.
“No, I didn’t vote,” Marvin said. “I was on the road.”
“Do you pay attention to politics in your country?”
“Look,” he said. “Here in Central America we say ‘Se uno trabaja, uno come. Se no trabaja, no come’ (If one works, one eats. If one doesn’t work, one doesn’t eat). “So I just work and take care of my family.”
Marvin was driving with a fellow trucker following close behind. He would talk to Ania and I and then radio his buddy to chit-chat about girls they passed, “buena carne”, or patrol cars they saw in the bushes “pacos.”
It was easy to see the radio scanner was Marvin’s best friend on the road. Relief on lonely drives.
Marvin got hungry and we pulled into a truck stop in Liberia for dinner.
Marvin’s trucker buddy joined us and the four of us ate steak and gallo pinto (rice and beans). The food was the first sign we had crossed into a different, much richer country.
“Diego!” Ania said. “Diego, there’s herbs in the gallo pinto! Fresh, green herbs!”
After dinner we got back in the truck and Marvin blasted the hardest, dick-pumping disco music I’ve ever heard in my life.
It was a night of synthesizers all the way down the Pan-American highway.
© Diego Cupolo 2011