Nearly one-hundred people stand just across the street, patient and undiscerning while waiting for the light to turn green.

Confusion hit outside the U.S. Embassy today when when national and international visitors were instructed first to move down the road and then across the street to await further instruction. The curb was blocked off with cones; not even taxis were allowed make their drops.

A bomb threat… in Costa Rica?

Earlier this morning the embassy received a call, alerting them to a potential bomb threat. This then initiated the building’s security protocols, including a perimeter which must be vacated by pedestrians.

All meetings and emergency visits to the Embassy were put on hold until the “all-clear” was issued and the building reopened at 10:11am. Meetings that had already passed by that time were still honored.

For many, a bomb threat was not completely unexpected.

One man, who chose to remain unnamed, even expressed that threats and security shutdowns were almost normal here, but only at the U.S. Embassy. He also mentioned that such occurrences were more common when the U.S. had strained relations with other parts of the world such, like the Middle East.

Even so, the last bomb that actually detonated on the Embassy’s ground was in 1986 when three individuals including a Panamanian were detained for a blast that caused minor structural damage and injured three people.

How to stay up-to-date with U.S. Embassy events and information

For U.S. citizens who wish to stay up to date on all security information while here in Costa Rica, there is a service called the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) that can help.

By securely sharing the details of your travel with the Bureau of Consular Affairs, travelers and expats can receive occasional emails about the safety conditions of Costa Rica (or whichever other countries you may traveling through). STEP also acts as a liaison to help family and friends get in touch with you in case of emergency.

In the words of the Bureau:

“Stay informed, Stay Connected, Stay Safe!”