Try to Keep Your Cool when Paying a Bribe

Living a life of exploration and travel means you occasionally have to try new things, like paying a bribe to a border guard in another country. However, if you ever do find yourself having to pay a bribe to someone, try to make sure you don’t do it in front of the local police, like Andrea did.

These are stories of how “doing the right thing” at a border crossing between Costa Rica and Nicaragua can get you into some really odd situations.

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Read about Andrea’s incredible Costa Rica trek in her book, Crossing Bridges

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  • Andrea Wady 00:00
    You cannot make this up. Like we are so far from Cornwall right now like This is insanity. And as we drove into Nicaragua, you crossed this town called reverse that you get to first and there's just buildings full of bullet holes everywhere. Like I have just bribed a border official. Jump in with both feet. Go Big. Follow your dreams
  • Callie King 00:31
    grab life by the reins.
  • Andrea Wady 00:33
    This is how we live. We're Callie King and Andrea Wady two horse trainers always looking for adventure and
  • Callie King 00:40
    finding it. Join us for stories of dangerous travels wild animals, new challenges, and in the end, always learning alongside our magnificent horses. So saddle up and follow along. You're listening to grab life by the reins.
  • Andrea Wady 01:07
    Yay. I love hanging out with you even though you're on the other side of the world this time. I know we're normally together when we record podcasts. But I get I just love our Hangout sessions and the fun stories we share. It's a big highlight of my day I was looking forward to it today.
  • Callie King 01:24
    We just squeezed this one in between rainstorms where you are in Cornwall, so we're hoping that the weather holds so that we can finish this episode. I
  • Andrea Wady 01:35
    swear to God, it's gonna be like bloody Noah's Ark round here in a minute. It's I literally think we could just sail away on my on the field that we live in. It's just so wet, but I'm focusing on the beautiful green. We couldn't be this green if we didn't have all this rain.
  • Callie King 01:54
    So when you were living in Costa Rica, how many months out of the year did you get heavy rain? They're
  • Andrea Wady 02:03
    not as much as you'd think. Actually, people used to say to me, gosh, how do you survive the rainy season? It's like I loved the rainy season because it wasn't quite so hot. But sort of September, October, November. We're pretty rainy. But still it would be like pouring, pouring rain in the afternoon. Beautiful blue sky all morning. I loved it. Loved it. But you know, like people here in England may go oh my gosh, it's so rainy. I'm like, You have no idea what heavy rain is like. I mean, in Costa Rica literally. Sometimes the street water would go a bit brown and muddy because it was flooding in the mountains where they collected the water. So I literally would go and stand outside and shower. Just outside in the rain because it was so heavy. So strong. Oh, it was great. Yeah,
  • Callie King 02:54
    interesting. That's actually it's the same rainy season here. We're quite a bit farther north and Wahaca. And we're technically North America. So we're not Central America here in Mexico.
  • Andrea Wady 03:04
    No, you're that further north, aren't you? Yeah, yeah.
  • Callie King 03:08
    And we have a more arid climate. We're not jungle going up into the mountains. There's patches that have a little bit of that look, but it's definitely not classified as jungle that that ecosystem. So I am I'm kind of switching gears here. But I'm thinking back to our other episode, where you and Chris got married because it helped with the visa process for Costa Rica. Oh,
  • Andrea Wady 03:32
    yeah. Such a romantic way to get married.
  • Callie King 03:37
    I had, I had my own adventure to get a visa to get my residency to live here in Mexico for more time and to you know, just have all that comes with residency. Yeah. But was it before you got your residency that you would do the classic border run? Usually to Nicaragua from Costa Rica, right?
  • Andrea Wady 03:58
    Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. So every three months, you had 90 days, you know, I think we were on year, like year four or five before we applied for our residency, something like that. So every 90 days, you'd have to leave the country for three days. I mean, it was all a bit of a joke. Really. I know. I know, people that used to just send their passport with somebody else to the border to get a stamp. But I quite liked it. I love going to different cultures. I love visiting different countries. So we would go either to Panama, and you'd have to be out of Costa Rica for three days, and then come back. So we either went to Panama or we went to Nicaragua. So both countries incredibly different, but great experiences, crazy borders, but you know, it was fun. And
  • Callie King 04:52
    we're three days out of the country. That sounds like a kind of excuse to go and add surf and party. Every three button So is that how it ended? Yeah,
  • Andrea Wady 05:02
    that's exactly how it ended up. So we would pick up a bottle of rum, usually. And quite often there'd be a few of you. Like you'd get a group of you or sometimes it would just be Chris and I and would take surfboards and head over the border three days on the coast, surfing, eating food. And we started to make friends in the different places, because we'd go every three months. So that was kind of cool, too. There were lots of adventures. My gosh, we could do a whole season on the adventures I had in Nicaragua and Panama crazy stuff. Crazy. I mean, when I'm here now in England, and I look back at I just think, Wow. Did I do all that crazy stuff? Why did I not think at the time, that that was insane. But when you live in that world every day, it seems normal. But then you look back now when you're in a reasonably sedate place like England, you look back and think, holy crap, that was really crazy.
  • Callie King 06:08
    So tell me the wildest border run story that you have?
  • Andrea Wady 06:13
    Well, I've got to think of which ones I can tell you. But okay, so there was one of the one that's just sprung into my mind. That was, oh, gosh, it was so bad. So we decided that we wanted to take our own truck into Nicaragua. Okay, so that it was easy. We didn't have to rely on taxis and rely on different things. We could go to different surf breaks, we could explore different places. So we were going to take our truck, and we had a good old fashioned, you know, Toyota Hilux pickup boards in the back, we thought we were so badass. So you have to get certain paperwork for your vehicle to be able to take it out of the country. So Chris, and I, for all the fun and games we talk about on this podcast, we did always try and live a life by abiding, mostly by the rules. Because when you're in a different country, you know, you don't want to be an idiot. It's it's crazy enough down there without being really, really silly. So we went and got all the proper paperwork, all the stamps that we needed, we arrive at the Nicaraguan border, and they go, Huh, Moy difficile? And as soon as you hear that, you're just like, oh, no, here we go. This is going to be expensive, because, you know, it's just the way of the world down that everybody wants a little bit of, of, you know, encouragement, let's say, in the financial department. So I'm like, gosh, here we go. They're like, No, no, no, you can't take the truck. You're gonna have to leave it here on the border. Chris was like, there is no way. There's no way I'm leaving this truck here. No way. And we have the correct paperwork. More dificil. Okay, well, how can we make it less difficult? What do we have to do? You're going to have to buy a very special insurance. Right? So who do we buy that from? Well, it just happens, says the man on the border that I am also the insurance agent. Oh, are you? Okay? Well, that's convenient, isn't it? Chris is going. This is ridiculous. Like I you know, let's just go back. I'm like, we can't go back. We have to get our visa stamped, we've run right up to the end of our 90 day stay, we gotta go. So then I'm just going into like gung ho mode. Oh, I can do this. You know, I'm such a seasoned traveler, this will be fine. I'm like, so how much does this insurance cost? He's like, it costs $100. I'm hoping no, it doesn't. I am not paying $100. That's not happening. And he said, Well, what if? What if the insurance was $60? I'm like, what, like today's special offer? He's like, Yes, I'm like, Okay. Alright. $60. He's like, no problem. So just come around the side of the building Chris's like head in his hands and like, it'll be fine. Don't worry. I'm sure it'd be fine. So I've got the $60 folded in my passport. Right? So here I go, the little girl from England with my passport and my hand, my little skirt, my little t shirt to round the corner. I'm thinking to an insurance office. I kind of knew that it was dodgy. But I thought, well, you've got to play the game. You've learned that I'm sure in Central America or anywhere in the world. If you're there, you've got to play by their rules. Okay, so I'm like, okay, okay, I can do this. So we go around the corner, Chris. stays with the van to make sure you know we still had tires on it because borders are notoriously sketchy anywhere in the world. So he stayed with the truck, and I go around the corner, there is no office. Okay, there's no office, the insurance man in exclamation marks is standing around the corner. And I'm like, okay, okay. And he's like, Have you got the money? I'm like, yes, I've got the money with that. The wind picks up, right? Oh, no. Oh, yes,
  • Callie King 10:33
    I can see where this is going.
  • Andrea Wady 10:36
    It was terrible. Especially because as I opened my passport, and the wind took the 320 Oh, there was like two $20.02 10s as I remember it, the money just flies up into the air and is just flying around on the floor. We are scrambling, me and the insurance stroke Border Guard are scrambling to grab this money. Okay, and I'm going this is not going well. This isn't what it looks like on a Bond film. You know, hope like oh my god. So I'm grabbing them. I look up and guess who sat stood watching us from the other side of the road? The police? Oh, they
  • Callie King 11:21
    were probably ID on it. Are they gonna do? Absolutely. Well, they're gonna get cut.
  • Andrea Wady 11:27
    I'm thinking, Oh, my God, I'm gonna get arrested off the Nicaraguan border. What was I thinking? My ego got the better of me. I was being stupid. And I was going, oh my gosh, oh, my gosh, I look back and Chris is going, you know, his hands are on his head just like, Oh my gosh. With that the insurance man stroke border guard nonchalantly takes the money strolls across the road, gives half of it to the police comes back, gives me my stamp. We get in the car. And off we go. And I just looked at Chris and he was like, you cannot make this up. Like we are so far from Cornwall right now. Like this is insanity. And as we drove into Nicaragua, you crossed this town called reverse that you get to first and there's just buildings full of bullet holes everywhere. Like, I have just bribed a border official. But you know, my argument was he did tell me it was insurance and I was buying insurance. But there was no way I was leaving my truck on the border. No way. So that was just one of many border crossings. Yeah, that's
  • Callie King 12:37
    it. That's pretty much how it goes. How it goes here to state crossings. That happens crossing from one state of Mexico to another. No.
  • Andrea Wady 12:46
    Yeah. Yeah, I
  • Callie King 12:48
    had it. I had done similar when I drove down here because when I moved from California, I drove my car. And I made sure I had the correct paperwork. There was a legitimate insurance that I had to buy before I came down. You know what they say? Had all of that ready. First, when I drove into Mexico, there was nobody at the border. Like there was nothing I just drove across. And then I was in Mexico. No, no passport steps. Nothing. Wow. So so I'm, I've driving for I was like two days into the drive. And then I was crossing. I was crossing into Jalisco, I believe was the state. And when I went into Jalisco, they had a checkpoint. And same kind of deal. You know, I pull out all my paperwork. And he just stares at me with this face that, you know, we both know, he's like, you don't have the correct papers. Like yes, I have the correct papers. Yeah. You won't be able to cross without the correct papers. So yeah, yeah, we did the we did the whole thing. He wanted dollars. But I was like, No, I only have pesos. I had dollars, but I was not giving dollars up. So
  • Andrea Wady 14:04
    yeah, yeah, kind of play the game. We eventually,
  • Andrea Wady 14:14
    the way it is, isn't it? It's just the way it is. I can't remember actually another border crossing when we were going into Panama. And that was wild. That was like something out of Indiana Jones. And it was a long time ago, a long, long time ago. So it was before you know Costa Rica and Panama. Now a lot of people have moved there. You know that things have changed there a lot. But this was way back. This was 17 years ago, 18 years ago that we went into it actually knows more than that. It's like 21 years ago, and we were crossing into the border, a place called Six Hola. It was really poor. It was such a poor place. And there were loads of kids down on the border that were begging. And you know, it was really hard on the heart, actually. And I saw this one kid, and he had shoes tied to his feet. Because they were so broken. And the other kids had fairly All right shoes. And there were there were a few shops down there. I said to Chris, I want to buy this kid some shoes. You know this? Not Not for any reason. I just, I just, I just couldn't bear seeing it. It was really upsetting. I was like, I'm gonna buy him some wellies. Well, these are what we call Wellington's, do you know what Wellington's are?
  • Callie King 15:43
    I do, but we don't call them that. Or rallies, we just call them boots. Boots.
  • Andrea Wady 15:49
    So like rain boots, like gum boots dressing. Yeah. So I thought I'll get him some wellies, because it's so rainy down there. And that was really big puddles. And I thought, you know, I don't have children. But you know, I have friends that have kids. And they always say buy things a little bit bigger, because they're growing and they grow into them. So I said to him, I'm gonna get you some boots, and he was so excited. So I found out his size. And I went and got the next size up. That kid was so pissed off. Like I had ruined his entire existence, because his boots were one size too big. And I just thought it was the coolest thing that even surrounded by the poverty and the difficulties that they did. You still have that little bit of spunkiness in this kid that was like, Hell, no, I'm not going to look on call in front of my friends with wellies that are too big, I would rather tie my shoes to my feet. And he would not wear them. And I had to go back and switch them for a pair of boots that fitted properly. It was so cool. Yeah. And they were all grabbing it our bags and wanted to help us and I said, Chris, that's fine. Let them help person, you know, we can pay them a little bit of money for helping us and that's fine. That's how it works and all of that. And we've crossed the border, we've met this guy on the way down. And actually, there's some really funny stories surrounding this guy, really, really funny stories. But we'd met him and we'd all kind of traveled down to the border together. But Chris, and I will never walk across a border, or certainly back then with anybody that we didn't know very well, because you don't know what people are up to. So we'd always say, well meet you on the other side of the border, do our thing. Meet them there. And he didn't want anyone to carry his bag. Not because there was anything dodgy in it. He just wasn't thinking and he was like, no, no, no, I'm good. I've got my bag. I'm fine. And kept walking. He just was not thinking. This kid ran up behind him, grabbed the bag ripped off his shoulder and dumped it right in the deepest puddle. As if to say, Well, screw you. He taught American for not paying me $1 To walk across the border. And he did say afterwards. Yeah, I deserve that. I just wasn't thinking, you know, I wasn't thinking, Wow, that guy. He was such a smooth talker. He was such a smooth talker. And by the time the American or the kid, the American. So by the time we'd all crossed the border. And then up on the other side, he had procured himself a date with one of the Panamanian girls that worked at the border crossing. Wow. Right? He'd got himself a date. And I'm like, Wow, you are a fast mover. Like a real date. A real date? Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Not one of those date. Yeah. Not a paid date. Yeah. Not a pay by the hour date. Not that one a real day and she was really nice and really polite and pretty and sweet. And and it was seemed like a genuine date. Because don't forget, border crossings are not a five minute deal. You're talking hours. So he had time to you know, cultivate this. So he's got it. He's got a date. Well, where we were staying in Panama was down not far from the border place called Bacchus Del Toro. And we were in little houses on stilts that were in the water. Now, for those of you listening that are imagining some beautiful, idyllic Yeah, no, it's not that, you know, like, toilet was a hole in the ground that went into the lake, that kind of thing. So we were very young then this was budget budget. So this guy, David, he goes, right, so I've got this date tonight and I've got to get to the other island. Okay, well, how Are you gonna do that? And he said, Well, apparently there's like these water taxis that you can get. We're like, Okay, well get one of those. So he goes off to the local shop finds himself this water taxi. Okay, great, perfect. Along comes the water taxi about an hour before his date and it's basically a dugout canoe. So any gets an Off he goes, We're all just cracking up laughing thinking, Oh, this is this is funny. He's gone for hours. And we're like, we don't even really know him that well. Like if we have to raise the alarm. We have no idea who we're going to call but he is gone for hours. And we're thinking, wow, this must have gone really well. Anyway, he eventually comes back. And he'd gone to this dance with her. With her grandparents, her parents, her cousin's her aunties, her uncles. But they didn't join in the dance. They all just sat there and watched the pair of them for the whole way through the date. But he had to pay for all of them. It was absolutely hilarious. He was like, I will never do that. Again. He said she was really nice. But yeah. And he wasn't really allowed to touch her. You know, it was all very proper, very, very proper. And he goes, and I wouldn't mind it cost me an absolute bloody fortune. And then I'm coming back in the water taxi. And we nearly got run down by a cruise liner that was going in between the islands. And I was just like, wow, this is you know, we are really living. So thank you for asking me about the borders because it just reminded me of some really fun times in my life. And isn't that what's so awesome about travel is you can go there anytime in your head. You just go back to those memories and relive it and you just get the joy a second time around.
  • Callie King 22:05
    That. Absolutely. As you were telling that that story I was I was actually reliving if I had some of my own dating in Mexico stories. I love it. But I don't know if I want to tell that while the podcast.
  • Andrea Wady 22:19
    Okay, well, I'm gonna convince you for the next episode, because this is definitely going to have to have a part two.
  • Callie King 22:27
    I could I could totally relate to lots of family around. I had a similar experience, but I didn't have to pay for anything. That is one of the benefits of being a Czech
  • Andrea Wady 22:37
    girl. Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. I know in this modern world where everyone's like, we'll go Dutch I'm like hell no. It's fine. You can pay I'm an independent girl, but I quite liked all that chivalry stuff. Well, guys, this has been fun. Yeah.
  • Callie King 22:55
    Thanks for tuning in everyone it we'll see you in the next episode.
  • Andrea Wady 22:58
    I can't wait. I'm going to convince Callie to tell us those stories.
  • Callie King 23:04
    We might need to edit that out because it'll be a hard convincing Thank you for listening to grab life by the reins. If you want to see ridiculous photos from our adventures be the first to know when we release new episodes and be a part of war shenanigans. Join our email family at grab life by the
  • Andrea Wady 23:27
    We'll see you in the next program.