Now It’s La Migra!
I would have never known that the rogue OIJ agent was the brother of the local thug/bodyguard if he hadn’t revealed that important fact to me while also threatening me with major bodily harm. He also got in some screaming allegations that my mother worked in the world’s oldest profession and that she was never married to my father. So that was a nice and pleasant visit. But at least I could reasonably suspect that the shakedown at the gas station was not directed by an OIJ official and what had occurred was actually a fishing expedition. They probably figured that they’d find my gun and give me an option to self-deport or stand trial. Next time they’d probably plant some drugs or guns and my goose would be cooked. My question was, who the hell was the they?
About the only break I’d been getting was on Saturdays when my loco del coco American friend and I went kayaking on the Sarapaqui River. The river flowed past the Selva Verde Lodge where Sports Illustrated had a photo shoot for one of their swimsuit editions. Needless to say, that day, the lounge at the Selva Verde was packed with us local boys trying to catch a glimpse of the models’ ankles. We never went to that lodge otherwise because their prices were targeted at the rich tourist dollar. We did, however, end our whitewater kayaking trips in a small town named Puerto Viejo at a bar that was situated right on the river. By the time we pulled into Puerto Viejo, the bar was swaying if not rocking to Latin rhythms. We normally tried to attract a little female attention by paddling hard right up onto the bank of the river and popping out of our kayaks before bee lining it to the bar for a few rounds. After that, it was back to my gringo friend and kayaking buddy’s house to hang out in his homemade Jacuzzi. This is where we gathered to drink rum from iced green coconuts. We’d just hack off the top of the coconut with a machete, always being careful of our fingers, pour in a long shot of rum, and stick a straw in it—bam! Instant hangover. One particular week, when we got back to our staging area, I found that someone had stolen my spare tire which had been bolted on and rusted solid to the bottom of the truck bed. I just could not catch a break at all.
It had been a couple of weeks since the bodyguard visited me and my biggest problem was with the locals continuing to harp on me about having no Ticos working for me. When I reminded them that none of them wanted the job when I first came asking, all they said was sí but that was then and this is now. I thought I would probably have to hire a Tico tractor driver eventually, as I tried to teach my oldest and smartest Nica to drive the tractor, and he almost killed us both. Americans just take it for granted that guys and gals can drive stuff, but my Nicas were never exposed to motorized vehicles and it was completely other worldly for them.
One day I was at home cleaning up after work and a government vehicle pulled into my driveway. It was not the welcome wagon. I walked out my front door and met the driver on the porch. He was from their Immigration & Customs Agency, and asked to see my passport and the papers for my truck. Technically, I was still a tourist, but was allowed to keep the truck on my passport for three months at a time. This deal with the truck required me and a bunch of other expats to make frequent runs to the border for a couple of days of fasting and prayer in Nicaragua in order to get us and our vehicles stamped out of and back into the country. You can repeat this until the end of time unless you go over the 90 days, then you’ve got problems. After all of the recent excitement, I was relieved and actually surprised to hear that my papers were all in order; however, he asked me if I am el jefe of the black pepper farm—as if he didn’t know. I told him that I am and he said that he would need to see all the documents of my workers and their dependents. He then ordered me to be at his office before noon the next day with all of my peeps and their passports. Oh what joy! I wondered if someone tipped him off that my Nicas had arrived here illegally and without passports.