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Old 29 Dec 2009
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corrupt cops south of Managua

A couple of my friends are riding to Argentina and they were stopped for “traffic violations 5 times just south of Managua Nicaragua. They were told that the cops watch for a single head light coming down the road because only gringos ride big bikes with lights on. When they see the single head light they get off their lazy arses and flag the bike down for a trumped up charge and a bribe. My buddies were told the put a switch on for their heads lights or cover them up to get past the cop before he can stand up… has anyone else heard of this?
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Old 29 Dec 2009
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Cops south of Managua

Bad luck. We just rode that stretch two days ago and were stopped twice. They just wanted to know where we were going and we were on our way. We had our troubles in Honduras. Just after crossing into Honduras at the first police check, two fresh, young, pimply-faced cops stopped us and immediately told us we did not have the proper number of reflectors on our bikes. Multa, they said. As soon as we objected to the supposed infraction, they backed off and let us go on. These two clowns were too young and inexperienced to pull off an effective scam. I had the feeling the police force was robbing the grade schools to fill the ranks of police officers.

Further down the road just before leaving Honduras, we were stopped and asked for our drivers license. Older cop and a nice guy. We chatted a bit about this and that. Then a man who was hanging about (not a cop) came over and told the cop that the license was a copy. Fortunately the cop either did not hear him or did not believe him. As we were leaving, the man had the balls to ask us if he could be our helper to get us across the border!!!!!!!!! Go figure. We are now in Costa Rica. We were stopped only once today and asked for passports. This was just after the border, but were waved through the other police checks.

Joel and Taz
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Old 10 Mar 2010
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Corrupt cops: Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras

We just crossed Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras in the last few days and here is what happened to us.

In Costa Rica we encountered one corrupt cop. We were going too fast, 93km/h in a 40km/h zone, but the way he told us that the fine for this was around 400$ it was obvious that for a smaller fine paid on the spot to him would see us on our way. So we talked to him, asked him if he could let us go for this first offence since we didn't know about the rules in CR, that he was the one with the solution to this situation. He did let us go.

In Nicaragua we were stopped a few times after the border with CR on the way to Granada, asked for the motorcycle documents, and were let go. We encountered no problem all the way from Granada to Somoto and the border with Honduras.

In Honduras we were asked our documents right after crossing the border, everything was normal. The bad cops we encountered were at 40km, and 20km from El Salvador's eastern border with Honduras. It seems to coincide with a province border too. The first checkpoint had 3 police officers with one very eager to look serious. Brian gave the documents and we spoke spanish with the guy until he said we had no reflectors on the side of our boxes and we would have to pay a fine. This is the point at which we started to speak to him in rapid French. He did not want to give Brian's driver license back. But after insisting that we were only going to El Salvador, showing that we were not understanding spanish and being (Marie) a bit physical with him he gave the documents back. (Note about me being physical: I wanted to explain to the cop, now in the middle of the road, that the driver license was Property of Canada/Québec, which I don't think is true at all, and to do so I was going to take the DL out of his hand. He held tight to it, very very tight. So I let go, went back to the moto, and took the waiting position next to it. In reality I just did not want him to disappear with the DL and it is why I followed him). They tried to intimidate us, but I guess the technique varies with the culture and it just didn't work for us.

The second checkpoint (20km before the border) had two young police officers. After saying Hola to us he immediately patted our Ortlieb bag behind me. Bad sign. Suddenly we were not speaking spanish anymore. He let us go after a bit without even asking for any document.

This was our experience,


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Old 28 Mar 2010
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Indeed the best way not to let them get control of the situation is to keep talking a foreign language. If you dont understand what they say, you are not responsible for not paying a fine or not knowing the law.

It worked everytime for me in Russia, in Argentina, in Venezuela, in Paraguay, in Brazil (but i still had to go and get a helmet there). In the US, only once did i have to follow the cops to the police station.
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Old 31 Mar 2010
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From what ive read and experienced, this stretch of road is notorious for cash shakedowns and is just part of the adventure.
Photocopies, patience and ignorance are your best friends.

As far as the headlight scenario goes, I would say its true that virtually no local bikes have daytime running lights and this would make a gringo easier to spot. However ill take the increased visibility and safety towards other drivers.
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Old 27 Apr 2010
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Another good idea is to hang on to your last expired drivers license and when you go to get the replacement tell them that you lost the old one.

I used my expired drivers license all the time in Latin America. It is great for those times when someone wants to hold onto your license for something. You do not have to worry as hard about getting it back.
http://www.journeyrider.net Latin America blog (07-8)
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