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Is this norm or not?

Mount Vernon...
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407 posts
20 reviews
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Is this norm or not?

We arrived late at 21:30 last nite with United here in Costa Rica. We got our rental car from Dollar. No problem, and we hit the road by 23:00 pm to Playa Flamingo. Road sign were good easy to read no problem.

On the way to Playa Flamingo we were stop by Policia for no reason. We weren't speeding or anything. They didn't stop anyone else, but us. Road were dark and it was late at nite too.

They asked for our documents. We handed our passports. They flashed their flash lights toward the trunk of our car and checked us out. Then they looked at each page of our passports. We were kinda scare in the middle of the nite. Took them 15 min checking our papers. We got little scare !!

I wanna know if this is norm or not? I felt I was being profiled by the police because I do look like Costa Rican but by birth I am originally from Bali Indonesia. To make matter worst, my hubby being 12 years older than me he looked much older then his age because of his stage 4 cancer.

I can't help myself feeling somewhat being profiled and this is left me not feeling welcomed here. I don't wanna have this vacation ruin by my fear. I am not kinda nervous to go out at nite if my hubby ask me to.

Please tell me your opinion!

Thank you. By the way Costa Rica is soooo beautiful.

San Jose, Costa Rica
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735 posts
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1. Re: Is this norm or not?

I don't think you were being profiled. If you were, they would have tried to shake you down for money.

It was probably just a traffic stop. They sometimes put them up close to my house, and it can take them 5-10 minutes with me, being relatively a local and speaking Spanish...

Nowhere
Destination Expert
for Playa Samara
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4,110 posts
80 reviews
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2. Re: Is this norm or not?

Nah, we all get stopped once in a while. I'll say that a late night stop is extremely rare unless you happened upon some police checkpoint. On occasion, they will do spot checks to make sure that drivers are not drunk, especially on weekends or when there are local festivals.

It is normal for them to request the passports of visitors since you are only allowed to legally drive if you have been in the country less than three months. With plenty of expats living the "perpetual tourist" lifestyle, some feel it's alright to overstay. When they do, they lose the privilege to drive.

Uvita, Costa Rica
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for Uvita, Ojochal
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2,649 posts
44 reviews
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3. Re: Is this norm or not?

This is normal they do spot checks all the time, not a shake down. I get stopped every once in a wille . Lot of "Perpetual Tourists" among expats so they ask for passports, actually the are cracking down on it with a couple arrests and deportations in my area recently. These stops are actually welcomed by many that live here as it shows the Police are doing their job. I am sure you were not being profiled, there is not as much here as in much of the western world. Sometimes these are spot checks, othertimes they are looking for someone so go by anything that fits the discription. I dont get waved through most of the time near were I live as I know me but will stop others that are not familiar. So there could be many reasons, dont worry about the Police they are there to protect and doing a job.

Playa Hermosa...
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for Manuel Antonio, Jaco
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4. Re: Is this norm or not?

This is quite normal. I am stopped every now and again also. (And yes the visual search of the vehicle too.) Please don't be alarmed and don't let this discourage you from traveling in the area. As previously mentioned, the police presence is for a good reason and reassuring for those of us living within the law. I've been waved thru several times also due to familiarity while others are stopped. I hope the officers were efficient and polite as they have always been for me. Your post brings up an important issue that is not often covered on this forum so kudos to you to inform other travelers!! Enjoy your vacation!

Cahuita, Costa Rica
Destination Expert
for Cahuita
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2,649 posts
32 reviews
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5. Re: Is this norm or not?

We are stopped fairly frequently on the road between Cahuita and Limon -sometimes the police are quite obviously checking passports, other times that the car papers are in order and where we live, that you aren't carrying goods from panama that haven't had the taxes paid. Usually it is a perfectly civil exchange of conversation and a brief pause in the journey. If you did feel nervous, perhaps better to avoid late night driving - it all looks so different in day light! Hope this is the start of a magical trip for you both.

San Jose, Costa Rica
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47,497 posts
35 reviews
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6. Re: Is this norm or not?

Beleive me or not...but your post will help many people understand...how serious our police is taking the safety of visitors and natives...I LOVE IT!!.

Now days they stop people at random...and they take note of who was in the car...number of pieces of luggage if they can see them...if you let them know they will check and see if are guns or anything else at truks , globe compartament...etc.

They will like to know in case that your car was stole...to find out who is driving what car...and names...you can never imagine the millions of dollars and tons of drugs they find that way...good for you and good for us!

Thank you for posting very nice of you...I hope you and your husband enjoy our country...now that you personally know that our police are trying to protect all of us!

roadadvisor

guanacaste
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3,094 posts
48 reviews
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7. Re: Is this norm or not?

Late at night on a road to the beach in Guanacaste.....stopped....

normal, control routine checks ....happy to hear that police is doing the job

don't drink and drive.....better get a cab

if you are still around Flamingo visit Rincon de la Vieja Volcano and enjoy a drink at Amberes , ask for Hubert

enjoy Costa Rica

Mount Vernon...
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407 posts
20 reviews
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8. Re: Is this norm or not?

Thank you all so much for taking the time to calmed me down. So sorry I think I over reacted yesterday . I felt so much better by reading your generous comments tho and I do understand that they were just doing their job to protect all of us! I also noticed them here at the Playa Flamingo beach area. T

Hubert, thank you very much for the offer. That was very nice of you.

We love it here. We went to eat at Coco Loco this evening based on recommendation from TA. It was fabulous!! Good food and half the price from Arenas's here at Playa Flamingo Resort. Thank you.

I will write TA report when we get back home.

Thank you all for your kind words.

Roadadvisor, I/we still owe you a drink . If you are near here send me pm.

Jade

San Jose, Costa Rica
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47,497 posts
35 reviews
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9. Re: Is this norm or not?

So nice of you Jade...GRACIAS !!

roadadvisor

Cahuita, Costa Rica
Destination Expert
for Cahuita
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2,649 posts
32 reviews
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10. Re: Is this norm or not?

You didn't over react at all, Jade. Being pulled over by the police in the dark in a foreign land within hours of landing would make anyone a little nervous, but so happy to hear that you're having a great time now!