A few years ago, I found myself sitting in a Nicaraguan border patrol office, arrested and terrified. I wasn’t wearing any shoes – I had lost them three or four days previous, and it hadn’t been necessary to get any – and my feet were dusty and sweaty. I left damp, dirt filled footprints along the cool hallway on my way to the office, where a large man with a larger mustache and mirrored sunglasses sat behind a wide oak desk. His boots were up on his desk, beside a pistol of some kind, and his anger smoldered across at me from behind his chrome lenses. I smiled nervously at him, pretending like I hadn’t just tried to pass a counterfeit hundred-dollar bill off before crossing the border back into Costa Rica.
The room was actually very pretty in a classic Central American way: white tiles with a ring of bright, decorated ones circling the top of the walls, a wobbly fan spinning lazily on the ceiling. Outside the small slatted window, I could hear old diesel motors and parrots, men yelling and dogs barking. It was a pleasant enough space to be in, away from the stifling, windless heat just outside the window. But I would have given anything to be out there. Anything to get away from my own stupidity.