Nicaragua – the land of lakes and volcanoes
What can I say about Nicaragua? It is safe. The people are friendly and welcoming. The land is beautiful. Travelling alone is intoxicating. I’m still trying to collect all my thoughts about my trip.
I started off my trip in Liberia – I stayed at the Hostel Dodero Pura Vida. The room was nice and clean and had a tv and my own fan. Bonus! I had casado at the nearby market and it was delicious and made me realize how much I had missed Costa Rica.
The next morning I walked over to Hotel Guancaste and booked a ticket on the shuttle bus to Grenada. The border experience was just something else. I’ll document it in a few simple steps.
How to cross the border from Costa Rica to Nicaragua
Step 1: Get on a bus – I took Central Line and booked the morning of – literally a half hour before – and got lucky with a seat. Pay $26.
Step 2: Get to the border. Fill out the sheets that the bus driver gives you. Get off the bus. Head to the immigration office. Get told to pay departure fee of $7 in a house-like building 200 metres away. Get to the building. Pass your passport through the window. Pay $8. (Obviously a $1 processing fee- not a tourist tax). Go back to the customs office. Get passport stamped. Get back on the bus.
Step 3: Hand over your passport to the bus driver. Pay $14 to the driver. Drive to the border. Have a nurse hop on the bus. She takes your temperature and leaves. Fill out a health declaration sheet. Swear you do not have any symptoms listed. Hand over a vial of blood. * (**)
Step 4: Get off the bus at the border. Stand around. Watch your bus get fumigated. Have the police search everyone’s bag. Hand over your traveller declaration form to a random official looking person. He looks at you and pats your bag. You are free to go back to the bus or have people try to sell you things.
Step 5: Optional: Buy snacks from the people standing around your bus. They were delicious. Have no idea what they were.
Step 6: A customs officer comes to your bus with the huge stack of passports. Everyone crowds around her. She calls out the name of all the passports she’s holding. Get your passport back. Look at the stamp. Realize the tourist card only cost $10. Tally up the day: $26 + $8 + $14 = $48.
Step 7: Wait on the bus for unknown reasons.
Step 8: Talk with the lovely woman next to you as she tells you she and her husband are driving around the Americas for two years. She says her husband calls the first day in any country as “rip-off” day. Adapt the same philosophy.
Wait some more.
Resolve to learn Spanish. Discover your memory card only holds 5 pictures.
*May be a slight exaggeration.
** Did not happen.