The police station in Tamarindo used to be in town, on the hill toward Lookout Point, but it was donated land so years ago the owner kicked them out. They moved to a one-room station in a private home outside of town, but that led to one small problem—they didn’t have any vehicles. When the police were needed in Tamarindo they had to hitchhike into town. They had guns but no one had money to buy ammunition.
As the town grew a real police force was needed to protect the tourists, so between private donations and municipal funding they managed to put enough together to buy the police force its first car. What a proud moment indeed, to have a shiny new vehicle for the police, but there was one glitch: cars need gasoline. The closest gas station was in Bellin, 20 km away, and petrol was over $6.00 a gallon. So the cops started a fuel fund by collecting donations from local restaurants and hotels. When they kicked in enough to buy a tank of gas the police force were mobile, agile, and hostile once again…at least until they got down to “E.”
By the time I got there they’d graduated to motorcycles and bulletproof vests. I saw police in town sometimes, when it was sunny out but not too hot and definitely not raining, between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., except during siesta time or on the weekends. They’d park in the shade of the palm trees in the roundabout and hang out. Thank God they were serious about stopping all of the crimes that occurred under those conditions. But they sure put on a good show of it every time you drove by the station, congregating in front for flag raisings at 6:00 a.m. and lowerings at 6:00 p.m. like clockwork. Between all the fundraising and the flag raisings, they appeared to be more of a Girl Scout troop than a police force. You might as well have put them in little brown skirts and unleashed them on the good citizens of Tama with boxes of Thin Mints.
They were such a joke that one time the cops actually got robbed at gunpoint by bandidos. Robbing the cops! I’d love to see how that went down:
“Hey, you! Freeze!” The policeman says, pulling his gun.
“Whoaa cabron! No, you freeze!” The bandido says, pulling his gun, too.
“Mae, I’m serious, now! Freeze or I’ll shoot! Don’t you see my gun?!” the policeman says.
“Well…I’ve got a gun, too!” the bandido says.
“This is your last warning and then I’m going to shoot! Don’t try me!”
“Ha! If you were really going to shoot you already would have. You probably don’t even have bullets in your gun.”
“Yes I do!” The policeman says.
“Yes I do!” The policeman says.
“Ha! Ok, that’s it. Hand over your gun, now!” The bandido says. The policeman hands his gun over to the bandido with a look on his face like he just drank sour milk. “Now, hands UP!”
The policeman puts his hands up.
“Wait a second, do you even have bullets in your gun?” The policeman asks.
“Of course I do!”
“Show me!” the policeman says.
“Shut up! Or I’ll shoot!” The bandido says.
“Liar! You don’t have bullets, either! I knew it!”
“Well…so what? Neither did you!”
“Enough of this - hands up!” the policeman says. “Give me your gun or you’re under arrest!” The bandido puts his hands up.
“Be careful threatening me, cabron!” the bandido says. “If I had a bullet right now I’d shoot you!”
“Well, if I had a bullet right now I’d shoot you in your FACE!” the policeman says.
“Yeah? Well I’m going to buy a bullet next week and come looking for you!” the bandido says.
“Next week?! Unlikely, puta! Everyone knows you can’t afford a bullet! You can’t even afford the bus to Liberia!”
“Liberia? Is that where you buy your bullets? They’re pretty expensive there, no?” the bandido asks.
“Yes, it's definitely true. Way too expensive.”
“I find they’re usually on sale up in Santa Cruz.”
“Santa Cruz? Really? I’ll try that next time, thanks,” the policeman says. “There’s a little frozen yogurt shop I just adore up there, too.”
“Wait, you mean Heladeria Ricardo? Ohhh I just love that place!” the bandido says. “I always get the strawb…”
“Strawberry!” the policeman says at the same time. “Hahahahaha.”
(They just stand there and look at each other.)
“Sooo…what do we do now?” The bandido asks.
“I don’t know.”
“Do you think it would be all right if we put our hands down, at least?”
“Yeah, that would be okay, I think,” the policeman says.
They both put their arms down.
“Whewww…my arms were getting tired. So…how about you give me my gun back and just keep yours?” The bandido asks.
“Come on…it’s hot out here, and it’s almost lunch time. “
“All right, I guess that’s okay,” the policeman says. “Here you go.”
“Thanks. Wait…no, that one’s yours.”
“Oh, yeah. Here.”
“Great, gracias,” the bandido says. “Well…I guess I’ll just go now?”
“Yeah, me too.”
“I’ll see you next week, amigo.”
“You too, hermano. Pura vida,” the policeman says. “And enjoy the strawberry at…”
“Ricardos!” they say at the same time.
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