It’s only been in operation for about eight months, but in that time the direct line to the tourist police has been gaining usage (a good thing or bad?). The 101 tourist police line is attended 24/7/365 by both spanish and english speaking officers. According to the jefa of the tourist police force, Jeannette Largaespada, there have been 982 calls, 313 from foreigners and 669 from Nicaraguans. Calls have been for a variety of reasons ranging from reports of robbery, assaults and car accidents to inquiries of directions, tourist routes and accommodations.
I was really impressed that they take non-emergency, tourism-related calls so I thought I would find out first hand how well the new system works. I gave them a call.
Blue is the police and Green is the gringo.
1. Hola buenas dias. Policia turistica como puedo sirvirle?
Uh, hello is this the tourist information line?
— click! —
Not to be deterred I tried a second time.
2. … hola?
Uh, hello there is this the tourist information line? I am looking for the tourist information line.
<heard talking in the background> hay alguien que habla ingles? <shuffling sounds> … <different voice comes on the line in heavily accented engrish> Good morning tourist police emergency telephone. How can I help you?
Yeah, hey good morning. I have a question. How much is a taxi to the airport?
Um, tourist police emergency telephone, how can I help you?
Yeah, I want to know how much is a taxi to the airport. I need to get to the airport and want to take a taxi but need to know how much it costs.
Ok let me see…where is your location?
I am at the hotel. I need to get to the airport.
Ok, what hotel are you staying?
At the Best Western, Las Mercedes. I am staying at the Las Mercedes.
Ok, please hold on…. <pause> …I will check on the price for you. <disappears for 2 minutes>
Yeah I am here.
Ok, where are you from?
Gary Indiana. I’m an American. American.
Ok, that is very nice. Sir, the hotel Las Mercedes is across the street from the airport. You can walk.
Oh, oh it is? Well how much is a taxi anyway?
Ok, ok sir? Maybe the taxi would cost 30 cordobas.
Yeah? That’s it? I have my wife and my dog and my dog has a lot of luggage you see. And my wife demands air conditioning anywhere she goes…
Ok, maybe 50 cordobas. But I think that is all.
50 cords wow that’s great. Ok amigo thank you very much.
Ok sir, thank you for calling and have a nice day.
— click! —
There is no 911 but there is 101. It helps to speak Spanish, but in an emergency this is who I would call. It might take a couple of tries, but it sure beats having to remember a hundred separate numbers depending on the emergency (or tourism related query)!