Costa Ricans better enjoy their Christmas 2013 because next year may be a little bleak.
Santa still is in the immigration lockup in Hatillo grousing about his treatment by the bureaucracy.
Things would have been fine if he could have flown out the way he came in, but Vixen stubbed his hoof on the protruding sheet metal at the platina bridge over the Río Virilla, so the sled had to go on terrestrial drive.
At the Peñas Blancas border crossing to Nicaragua, Santa first got into trouble when an immigration official asked him for proof he paid the land exit tax. The tax is only being collected sporadically now after chaos ensued earlier this month. But Santa sort of looked like a Gringo, so he was hit up for the $5 tax plus $2 for baggage x-ray inspection. In his case, the later was a good deal because the sled still was packed.
Poor Santa had no way to pay the tax because the finance ministry and a local bank have not yet installed machines to accept credit cards.
Then while other officials were x-raying Santa’s pack, they found outlines of firearms, tanks and other machines of war.
This is a big no no in Costa Rica where the Patronato Nacional de la Infancia and the Arias Foundation for All Sorts of Good Things expect kids to get non-belligerent toys as presents instead of the ones they really want.
Meanwhile, one astute border crossing agents suddenly realized that reindeer are not cattle. There are plenty of rules about exporting and importing cattle, but not reindeer.
So someone called in the Servicio Nacional de Salud Animal whose expert also could not find any rules on reindeer. At first the various agents and experts considered just letting the animals cross without saying anything, but then a chief arrived, and he insisted on impounding the reindeer, sled and baggage.
When Santa arrived at the Hatillo lockup, there was a line of government officials who had been called out on Christmas morning to interrogate him.
Immigration, of course, figured he was illegal, but they could not locate his country of origin, the North Pole, to deport him.
The Aduana, the national custom service, wanted sales tax on all the items in the baggage, obviously illegal imports.
The Instituto Nacional de Seguros learned that the sled did not have its 2013 marchamo or road tax sticker much less the obligatory insurance.
The Humane Society and the conservation district were building a case for illegally transporting and exploitive actions against wildlife.
The labor ministry considered the suspect as illegally working in Costa Rica.
The finance ministry considered him a laborer, too, but legal or illegal, he needed to cough up his taxes for his Costa Rican efforts. just like foreign soccer players do.
Then the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social wanted its bite out of Santa’s payeheck.
Things mellowed some when Santa revealed he had a big bag of coal for Daniel Ortega’s stocking, but officials said he could send the stocking stuffer to Managua by Tica Bus.
Fortunately, Santa had completed all of his overnight rounds except Nicaragua when he was detained. Nicaraguans are used to getting the short end of the stick from Costa Rica, so there was hardly a protest.
Meanwhile the elves are trying to find a hard working, responsive lawyer who pays attention to details in order to spring Santa. They may have to look long and hard.