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After Being Stuck In Costa Rica For A Month, City Scribe Gets Visa To Nicaragua

Source: Mid-Day
Mar 28, 2018, 10:03 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon

After being stuck in Costa Rica for over a month, former scribe circumnavigating the world by land finally gets visa to enter Nicaragua

The Nicaraguan roadblock in former journalist Vishnudas Chapke's circumnavigation trip has finally been cleared. Chapke's almost 50-day ordeal ended on Monday night, when he finally managed to enter Nicaragua by land. Crossing the border into the Central American country was nothing short of a miracle for Chapke, who had been stuck in Costa Rica because his visa for the Nicaragua took forever to come through.

Chapke's visa was sanctioned on Monday afternoon, hours before he was to fly to his next destination. He later crossed the international border and reached the city of Rivas at night. mid-day had reported about Chapke's visa troubles on March 22 in 'Red tape halts Mumbai man's around-the-world record bid'. Chapke has set out from home since 2016, hoping to earn the world record to be the first Indian to travel the world by land.

Speaking to mid-day from Rivas early Tuesday morning he said, "I had taken a bus from Costa Rica, and reached the international border a little around 10 pm. I was treated well at the border, where two soldiers asked for my identity and passport as I entered. They revealed my name and country of origin to their superiors and it seemed like they already knew about my arrival."

"I stood in the queue, and their officer came to me inquiring for my passport. He took it and asked me to accompany him. He even asked if I was willing to plant a tree on behalf of their President and Vice President. I replied in affirmative and paid the entry fee of $12. Later, I spent the night at the immigration center, as they advised me not to travel in a taxi at the time."

Before he caught a lucky break, Chapke had been stuck Costa Rica for over a month because he could not get the visa to go to Nicaragua, which was supposed to take six months to arrive. He had since been volunteering at a hostel in San Jose. But things changed on Sunday.

"When I was making dinner, I saw three missed calls on my mobile phone. Thinking they were from either of my friends who had my Costa Rican number, I went back to cooking.

Once I was done, I called back on the same number. The person at the other end identified himself as the ambassador of the Nicaragua embassy. He asked me to collect my visa on Monday morning. After the call, I laughed. The ambassador of a foreign country does not call a traveler. If required, some other employee may call and pass on the message. Besides, no embassy approves visa on a holiday," said Chapke.

Where's the visa?
Meanwhile, Dnyanoba Neval, a local friend of mine, booked a flight for me to Honduras, so I could avoid Nicaragua. The flight was scheduled to take off at 2 pm on Monday. On Monday morning, I had two options: either go to the embassy or the airport. I took a chance and went to the embassy at 8.30 am. No one was there. I waited patiently."

"Then an employee came in, followed by the ambassador. The officials checked my visa fee receipt and started the formalities for the visa. After sometime, the ambassador said I have to wait as there is some problem in the Visa," he added.

Assuming he was not going to get the visa, Chapke thanked the ambassador and said he had to leave for his flight. He was asked to wait for 20 minutes and within the time, they returned his passport, with the Nicaraguan visa.

Continuing the journey
"I decided to continue my journey by land. I feel very said for my friend's $300 (approximately Rs 19,000) ticket going to waste. Yet, I am happy that my record of undertaking the journey by land is still going on," he said.

Did he ask the ambassador how the visa came about? Chapke said he did, but the ambassador refused to answer. He added, "I'm not sure who helped me with the visa. But there is someone who did. Thank you very much"

What's next for Chapke? "Nicaragua is a small country, I will spend at least a week here before I head to Honduras, El Salvador and Gautemala," he said. Chapke intends to spend only a week there before he heads to Mexico, which will be followed by USA, Cancada, Europe, the Gulf countries and then back home from either Pakistan or China, depending on whichever country grants him the visa.

Story first appeared in Mid-Day on 28th March 2018

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Mumbai Press Club
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Article posted on 29/03/2018

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