The way to Nicaragua

Traveling longer distances and making the border is always an adventure in Latin America. When you plan to leave Costa Rica via La Cruz don’t forget to buy the tax to leave the country. It’s interesting to see all the vendors in the border area and you can change your money on the streets or get yourself your lunch from one of the vendors…

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It’s 6 am in the morning while I enjoy some scrambled eggs, the bus to Tilarán leaves at 7 am, like always very early and it’s the only bus of the day. The managers of the hostel El Tucan speak English and gave me some advice how to continue the trip. From now I am on my own – without Stefan who speaks fluent Spanish – expecting to meet few people who can speak English, so gestures and my little knowledge in Italian and some words in Spanish should hopefully help to get me to my destination this day. I plan to reach Rivas in Nicaragua and want to continue to Playa Gigante the next day for some decent surfing, with the first bus of the day.

The bus is on time and I meet an American and a Canadian from Alberta, who I already met a couple of days ago in Panamá City. The guys have different plans. The American ran out of money but does not want to return to the USA, so he is looking for a job in the Tilarán area for some work on a farm, the Canadian guy wants to make his way to the beach of Costa Rica.

The ride is sloppy and for some time there is no pavement and the bus goes over a dirtroad. It’s an old school bus from Canada and I open the windows and enjoy the great fresh air and the stunning views over Costa Rica‘s highlands. I fall asleep several times, it’s like in a crib and as if you are cradled the whole time. The little Tica who is riding the bus with her dad seems to enjoy it as well. This kid already knows how attract and entertain people. Very cute.

When the bus reaches Tilarán I’m somehow disappointed since I saw on the map that there should be some big volcanos but I didn’t see them on the way and I can’t see them now… but there is no time to further think about that anyways. The bus to Cañas is already waiting to leave and I hop on. “¿Para llegar a Cañas?” The bus driver nods and replies with a short “Si”. And there we already go. Another two hours later I’m in Cañas and just five minutes after I hit the Panamericana I flag down my first bus to continue to La Cruz, close to the border of Nicaragua. The country changes a lot. It’s very dry here and there are lots of plantations along the road. It’s like in a dream to see all this going by. Around two pm I’m in La Cruz and find my way, mainly with gestures, to the next station where the busses to Peñas Blancas stop. This is the town on the border, Maxim told me to go this way and I’m glad for this information since it would not have been easy to find it on my own.

I pass the border walking, but don’t have the tourist leaving ticket, so I have to return to a little house on the Costa Rican side of the border to buy a ticket for ten dollars that grants me eligibility to leave the country.

There is lots of traffic (mainly pedestrians) at the border and lots of people try to sell food and drinks, merchandise, cloth and other goods, like hammocks. As soon as I pay my twelve dollars of taxes to enter Nicaragua, I’m allowed to pass a simple gate into the country and immediately find the bus to Rivas. It’s much louder here. Very busy indeed. All the people who try to sell something yell what they offer, repeatedly and the whole time. Even the bus drivers yell where they will go after departure. What I immediately recognize is that the Nicaraguans look totally different than Costa Ricans. They are much darker and look more like Indios.

Around four pm I’m in Rivas and since everything worked out so great I decide to take a cab to Playa Gigante which costs around 20 dollars. At five pm and some never ending discussions with the cab driver, who decides the negotiated payment is too few – four km before we are actually there – in a wild mixture of Spanish and English, I’m there. Have not expected to do this all in one day and am happy about it. Time to relax!

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