Friday, January 8, 2010

La multa (the ticket)

So, within the first 6 weeks of being in Nicaragua, I (Chase) got my first traffic ticket.  I was on a two-lane highway, stuck behind a little moto-taxi (a three-wheeled motorcycle taxi with a metal cab built around it) that was going about 15km/hr in a 60km/hr zone (that’s about 9mph in a 35mph zone).  Learning from the locals, I moved into the opposite lane of traffic to pass him.  Unfortunately, this is illegal because it involves “crossing the yellow line”.  I was waved down by a policeman and had my license taken away.

The normal process for getting a ticket goes like this: the officer takes away your license and gives you a ticket which acts as a temporary license for 30 days.  You go to any bank to pay the fine, and they give you a receipt to show at a police station to get your license back.

licenseThe problem is that not everyone agrees where your license will be taken.  Our Spanish teacher told us that it always goes to the main transit office (El Transito) and that we should wait a full week after the ticket was given to allow for processing time.

After the week was up, we went to El Transito and spent about 30-45 minutes there while they looked through stacks of licenses rubber-banded together and paper rosters of who got a ticket where.  Eventually they told me that they didn’t have it and that it might be at Police Station 3.  They added that if Police Station 3 didn’t have it, I should tell them that El Transito didn’t have it either.  Very helpful advice.

After Spanish class one day, we caught a taxi to Police Station 3, conveniently located in the middle of a neighborhood many nameless streets away from a major highway.  There, through poor communication in Spanish, we were directed to the Nicaraguan DMV to apply for a license.  We finally found our way to a little hut within the station walls where a little sign on the door said “Transito”.  It was padlocked.  We learned from a nearby officer that “Transito” did not open for 2 hours.

Fast forward through driving around aimlessly trying to find the station again, through waiting in the wrong line (not actually a line, but two men just standing in front of a doorway), through women shamelessly breastfeeding uncovered to finally receiving my license from one of those little rubber-banded stacks in a tiny little room in the corner.  We emerged sweaty but victorious (see above picture), and now I always make sure to check for policemen before crossing the yellow line.


  1. Murphy's Law, it seems. Lo siento! :)

  2. jaja, I like how you said you'll check for police before crossing the line, not that you wouldn't cross the line. Ya eres Nica.


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