Journey from Costa Rica to Nicaragua – April 2009

– Leaving one country for another, especially overland, is always an adventure worth writing about as I know I will be laughing about it years later….and my trip from Costa Rica to Nicaragua is another fun one…

– Once Amanda left me in Monteverde, Costa Rica, I had one more day to figure out where I was going and how to do it.  I learned I needed to do the following

1. Take a 6am bus down to the main highway.  They gave me a name of a town, but then said I had to get off before the town.  How is that for descriptive?

2. Wait on the highway and “flag down” a bus.  I would have to look for one of two cities on the front.

3. Then depending on which bus I got to stop, would depend on where I went next.

I knew there were a lot of steps, and I was hopeful I did it right.

– So I got the 6am bus with no problem.

– Once I got to the highway, at 8am, I met Paul, who was an older man from England, and he was going to Nicaragua as well so we decided to try to figure this out together.

– Then I met Kirsty, Liz and Melissa, all from Australia, and they were going as well, so now we have five brains trying to figure this out.

– After waiting for 15 minutes, we were able to flag down a bus to Liberia.  We also learned the public buses have a “body count” system…so once you get on the bus, a meter in the front or back stairwell counts the bodies entering and exiting the bus and the driver has to have fares for all bodies.  Too bad none of us knew this and Melissa and Paul got on the bus in the front, when the driver was off the bus loading our bags.  Paul quickly came off the bus to pay (hence the body counter has counted him on, off and then back on the bus), so the driver charged him double the fare as he would have to cover that money otherwise.  So we were basically held captive on the bus and there was no getting off for bathroom breaks, but with a 2 hour bus ride to Liberia…we were hopeful we could all make it.

– Once we made it to Liberia at 955am, we were looking to transfer to our final bus to Penas Blanca (and the border).  One of the locals at the bus station saw us look for the ticket booth and told us there were no buses to Liberia as it`s Sunday and we had to take a cab (which he was a taxi driver).  Sounded fishy to me, and I didn`t believe it and went to ask to the ticket booth.  Ends up he lied to us to try to get us to take his taxi and we had a bus leaving for the border in 5 minutes.  So we all loaded our bags on the bus, told the driver to wait so the girls could all run to the ladies room, and Paul made sure the bus didn`t leave with out bags.

– Once we got on the bus, we learned it was packed and we were all standing in the aisle for the trip and standing for two hours wasn`t my idea of fun…but after an hour people started to get off and we took their seats.

– So we arrived at the border around noon (keep in mind my alarm went off at 530am).  So six and a half hours into my journey, we got to sit at the border immigration area as the workers were all on lunch break from 1200-130.  Must be nice that everyone breaks at once and stops working.  It was frustrating as we didn`t know this at the time and didn`t know why no one was letting us in.

– We finally made it through immigration and I met two other guys in line that were going to San Juan del Sur to surf, so we decided to share a taxi and save some time dealing with two more buses.  Best $10 I spent as we were there in 30 minutes and already much happier to be at the beach town.

– I walked around town for 10 minutes trying to find a place to stay that looked nice and also had other travelers, as most of the places looked deserted.  I found Casa Oro and actually ran into Kirsty, Liz and Melissa, as they decided to come to the beach and postpone their plans to go elsewhere.  So we all reunited at the same hostel, went to grab lunch on the beach and just start to relax.

– Long journey…but finally settled.

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