The Demise of an Itching Lull and Two Other Surprises

After reaching Florida, my irritating, dry and itchy skin from the harsh northern winter so pleasantly found its way off of me. Heading due south, much closer to the equator than I’ve been in a long time, I couldn’t imagine that there would be more itching.

Spirit Air is an amazing value. Their slogan is: The first airline to provide ultra-low fares in the Americas.

I thought: For $160 one-way, to the tropics, how can you go wrong?

Something shocked me upon checking in.

Sir, do you have a return ticket?”

I don’t like being called sir because I don’t like formality, nor do I like it because it reminds me that I’m an adult.

No, I’ll buy my return flight from the city I decide on, when I’m ready.”

I can’t let you board the flight then.”

In a feeling of dismay, I said:

What? How can that be?”

I’d never heard of this imposed lack of liberty before.

According to the ticket agent for Spirit: the U.S. government has mandated that the airlines require all U.S. passport holders to have a return ticket upon leaving the country for Nicaragua.  Thus, he sold me a return ticket on the fly, for the same price as I’d paid for the trip down.

This is a stellar deal, even if you figure in that a change of date will require a fee of $110. Still, this huge surprise caused a touch of inner ire:  Do I have to travel by land or sea when I want to go abroad so that I’m not forced to purchase a return ticket? WTF!

Clearing customs was so relaxed and easy. The ‘Nica’ customs agents were smiling and open to humor. It was after 1am and I was greeted with a:

Buenas noches.

I returned his greeting with a:

Buenos dias, it is after midnight right?”

He chuckled and routinely took the three forms that I was forced to fill out on the plane.

The taxi ride was expensive.  The driver quoted me $20. I didn’t try to negotiate as I was exhausted.  Anyway, it’s always way more expensive to take a taxi from the airport than from somewhere else, especially in the developing world.  At that hour, there was absolutely no other option.  In hindsight, I could have tried to kill time at the airport for a few hours.  This would have saved me a night’s accomodation.  It may have also saved a few bucks on transport.

My next surprise was that the woman in the hostel had to be woken up.  She had absolutely no idea I was coming.  She didn’t have the key to a private room that I’d paid for via paypal the day before.

My only option was a hot dormitory room that didn’t have enough fans to go around. All of a sudden I was itching and listening to mosquitoes buzzing. I’d forgotten to pick up repellent before I left.  I’ve now got mosquito bites on my face, wrists, arms, hands, and feet.

If it’s not one type of itching, it’s another.  The itching lull of Florida was nice.  Now it’s time to scope out this capital city, acquire some insect repellent, and bring the itching lull back.


2 responses to this post.

  1. The agent for Spirit Air said that the U.S. govt. requires a round-trip ticket. However, I found out that it’s the Nicaraguan govt. that requires it, and the U.S. govt. makes the airlines enforce this, as the Nicaraguan customs officials don’t. There are also some other countries that require visitors from most countries to have purchased an onward ticket. The whole thing is strange as there are expats of various lands living down here. They get 90-day visas and simply have to walk across into a bordering land, and then walk back in for a fresh 90-day stamp. I think that the Nicaraguan govt. would be smarter to require proof of a certain amount of money in the bank as opposed to an onward ticket as we’re spending our money in their land.


  2. The US government imposes on its citizens that they buy a return ticket? WTF! That sounds outright unconstitutional to me, a violation of civil rights at the very least. What can possibly be the reasoning behind that? Some concession to the airline lobby is all I can think of.


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