Travel in Nicaragua is not always easy. While in recent years there has been significant improvement to the major roads, most roads leading into the villages and rural communises where the ILSN has congregations continue to be in very poor shape. In one case the road is simply a small river/flood gorge. In order for both the mission and the church to carry out regular visitations to these communities, it was decided that we should purchase a “mission truck.” We were blessed this past week to purchase such a truck, a used 2006 Toyoto Hilux four wheel drive for a reasonable price.
But having a vehicle sometimes complicates matters. Our first major trip planned was to visit our mission in Costa Rica. Little did we know what we would face at the border. Because there is no border agreement between Nicaragua and Costa Rica, there appears to be no system at all. At the Nicaragua side, we were met by several men who appeared to have some semi-official status. They provided some detail as to the process. Our vehicle would have to be inspected; we would need to pay exit fees and the cost for all of this would be 90.00 U.S. I paid the 90.00 and the process began. We passed through the first gate but now we were met by another team who said that our vehicle would need to go through a spraying and then be rechecked on the Costa Rica side. That together with our entrance fees would amount to $160.00 U.S.
It was at this point that we turned around. I refused to pay that amount and then have to go through this same process upon our return 5 days later. These costs were close to the cost of two airline tickets We turned around, but as you can imagine, that created a whole new series of problems. We were in no-man’s land, between the two border stations. What confusion! Apparently this had never happened before.
But taking the airline isn’t that easy either. No it wasn’t the airline travel itself, but the journey to the airport. On a previous trip we had hit a large pot hole with our vehicle. It did not appear that we had damaged the wheel assembly, but apparently some damage had taken place. We were only a few kilometres from the airport when our vehicle came to a sudden stop, but our front right tire continued on its way down the road. Apparently too much stress had been placed upon the lugs and they had been weakened. At that moment, they finally broke! We are thankful that no one was hurt. We were in the city travelling only about 25 kilometres per hour. If we had been in the country travelling at highway speeds, there might have been serious damage, not only to the vehicle, but to us.
We did however make it to the airport on time. The vehicle has been repaired and we are ready for the next adventure. By the way, the trip to Costa Rica was a blessing and I will share a little about our mission there in the next blog.