Saturday, February 26, 2011

Fingerprinted in the Backroom

We had the unique opportunity to get an extensive walking tour of a Nicaraguan police station this week...as well as, being fingerprinted by the police.

Before you jump to conclusions...we asked to be fingerprinted. One of the documents needed for our "Visas" is a background check from our state of residency. Delaware won't release a background check unless they have our "fingerprints." They advised us to go to the local police to have our fingerprints taken. Obviously, they have never traveled to a developing country like Nicaragua.

So, Jeff and I walk in to the police station and read from a "cheat sheet" the items that we need from the police: fingerprints, a signature and an official stamp. The policewoman proceded to walk us around the station (down hallways and into assorted offices) 3 times with a brief stop in the room where she keeps her purse, from which she pulled out a little sample tube of Olay Facial Regenerating Serum and asked me if I could translate it into Spanish. Ummm, nope can't translate "facial regenerating serum", sorry. We then followed her around the station a couple more times only to end up back where we started. Then, we followed another officer through the hallways past the same people we've now passed and smiled to multiple times and finally ended up in a backroom that looked liked something from the show "Alias." This very kind police officer fingerprinted us with great care. We washed our hands in a small utility sink with several Nicaraguans watching and wondering (only criminals and those 'under investigation' get fingerprinted here). We followed the nice fingerprinting officer to the police chief's office to get an "Official PolicĂ­a Nacional" stamp on our documents...which produced a few raised eyebrows and quizzical looks from the chief and those he was "questioning" in his office.

Yet, 45 minutes later we emerged with the needed documents and a great cultural learning experience! Our only regret is that we weren't able to take pictures of this fieldtrip.