A Travellerspoint blog

December 2007

Nicaragua to Costa Rica

sunny 30 °C
View Austin Texas to Argentina on hayden111's travel map.

Check out www.haydencarlyonphotography.com for more photos from the trip.

To be fair Nicaragua wasn’t all bad, but with the recommendations from other travelers we had met and our not so trusty guide book; I think our expectations were a little too high. It was a nice enough place to spend a couple of days but nowhere that you go out of your way to see.

A few nice cafes and restaurants, some decent inexpensive food, a scattering of nice churches and old colonial buildings etc, a big dirty polluted lake, a few corrupt police officers to bribe (anyone interested on the official rules of how to bribe police officers in Central America let me know, I am almost an expert) and some of the worst roads I have ever seen.

We spent 2 nights in Granada and 1 night in a town by the beach, close to the border. Early Monday morning we headed to the Costa Rican border, but first we had to exit Nicaragua. As a rule most borders take 1-2 hours to enter with a car and around 10 minutes to exit. Normally its simply a matter of getting an exit stamp in your passport, canceling the car permit and your done, but in Nicaragua it goes a little something like this...

Drive to the immigration office and get a small white piece of paper (an exit permit for the car). Get it stamped 5 times and signed five times by five different people, hidden around the border crossing. Sound easy enough. So who do we get to sign it first?

Border Official: "Go find the guy wearing a white t-shirt with the letters DGA on it”. Tiny letters I might add, a needle in a haystack at a crowded border crossing.

Alex: "Sorry, a guy with a white t-shirt, with what on it? Doesn’t he have an office or something?"

Border Official: "No he’s out there some where, just look around and you will find him."

After wandering around for ten minutes we finally found our guy sitting on a wall in the car park reading a newspaper and smoking a cigarette. He looks at the paper and our passports, stamps the piece of paper signs it.

Alex: "so what next"

Guy with the white t shirt: “find the guy with a blue t-shirt and a gun”

After checking 3 different offices we eventually spotted him in the distance walking across a car park, we chased him down and got our second stamp.

I will spare you the rest of the details but lets just say that this went on for about an hour, when we finally got our 5th stamp and signature and could head to the pit stop where the last team will be eliminated. I’m sure you have all seen the amazing race, it definitely feels like it at times. Definitely an entertaining morning.

After exiting Nicaragua, entering Costa Rica was a breeze. Apart from the 1 hour we had to wait when everything was closed for lunch. Costa Rica is as beautiful as you could imagine, it really is. Its very chilled, there is a lot less poverty, its clean and has a great infrastructure. It's a lot more touristy than the rest of Central America but it makes for a nice change. We drove straight to Playa Hermosa, a beautiful, relatively undeveloped beach on the pacific coast, about 2 hours south of the border.

We spent 4 days in Playa Hermosa to take a much needed break from the road and on Friday drove to Arenal, "the most active volcano in central america" yeah right... We spent a night by a beautiful lake overlooking the volcano and the next day drove to a town at the base of it. That night we went to the backside of the volcano to watch the spectacular fireworks and lava show, which wasn’t so spectacular. I couldn’t even get a picture of it. It was a nice drive though.

Now we are in Limón on the Caribbean coast. Yesterday I went for a hike through the jungle by the beach. The wild life here is incredible. All kinds of monkeys, birds, lizards and some very serious looking snakes, including a yellow tree snake with venom takes less than 5 hours to kill you.
Alex and his new girlfriend
Playa Hermosa, Pacific Coast Costa rica

Posted by hayden111 16:30 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (0)

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