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Trouble crossing the border

March 2, 2012

Sunday at 6am I took a taxi to the TicaBus station where I waited until 7am for the bus from Managua to Costa Rica. There were quite a lot of travelers, maybe a third of them spoke English but not all US people. You have to have already purchased a ticket with an assigned seat to be allowed on the bus and I can see why. I settled in seat 23 next to Herman, a German chef who lived near San Jose, CR, and who had been in Granada for 2 weeks helping a friend with rebranding a hotel and redoing the menu.

The ride to the border is about 2 hours and we talked off and on. There was a huge wind farm along the way. Electricity is extremely expensive in Nicaragua and I wondered what they did with all that power that was being generated. Herman also told me I needed evidence of my exit from CR, like an airline or bus ticket. I said I did not have anything because I am returning by private transfer. He shook his head…never a good sign.

The bus attendant collected everyone’s passport and 3 immigration forms we filled out, and some money, and put them in a plastic grocery bag. It was a bit unnerving to see my passport disappear. When we reached the border of Nicaragua and Costa Rica you first pay an exit fee to Nicaragua of about $3. Then you get back on the bus and drive to Costa Rica where the bus personnel return your passports and forms. You then go through immigration where Herbert (with fluent Spanish) tried first to “bribe” my way through and then to convince them I was leaving the country, but no luck! I thought I would have to abort my trip, but I was able to buy a return ticket to Nicaragua to allow me to enter Costa Rica. This was necessary even though I had no need for it. So if you go to Costa Rica be sure to have your exit documentation, even my air ticket back to the US from Nicaragua would have sufficed. I just did not know.

We traveled on through Costa Rica which is more mountainous than Nicaragua and prettier I thought. In Liberia I left the Tica bus and walked a block to wait for the local bus.  It arrived in an hour, and the ride to Tamarindo was about 90 minutes. It was getting hot and when we reached Tamarindo, which is a beach resort on the Pacific, I had more adventures trying to figure out where to get off. I had some interesting conversations with women in a closed pizza shop and the bus driver and other bus patrons. Part of the problem was I did not have an address, most places do not have formal addresses, you find them by landmarks. Finally, at 3pm after 9 hours of travel, I arrived to a beautiful apartment, a pool and the beach and my friends…it was all worth it.

I have had a wonderful and relaxing week here in Tamarindo. I only brought my Tablet, not my Netbook, and it has been hard to blog although I can check email fine and was able to work. Mostly I worked on my tan!! Hard to believe we are returning to Nicaragua tomorrow, leaving at 430am, ugh! This time it will be in a van and much easier and less adventurous I am sure.

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From → Granada

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