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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Redemption on the Road to Nicaragua

Sunrise on the road from Monteverde

We started off today at 4.10 with the alarm for the 4,30 bus. By the time we had pulled our clothes on it was 4.17 so we made a bolt for the street corner nearly slipping on the dark as we left. There were other shadowy characters waiting and the bus pulled up within seconds of our arrival.

It was a large smooth bus riding an excessively steep, bumpy mountain road at seeds of around 15 kph, lurching all over the place as it went. At intervals people appeared out of the half dark and the bus stop for each one taking a tortuous amount of time to wind slowly down from the cloud forest.

The views were spectacular. It was almost impossible to photograph both because they were fleeting in the half-light between trees and embankments and because the bus continued to behave like a busking bronco, but here is a short photo journal of a few of the somewhat fuzzy impressionistic results ...

Houses in la Junta

The bus was nominally headed for la Junta, but ran on to the junction with the Pan American at la Irma bus stop. There we waited for our Transnica Nicaragua bus which we had paid $50 US for a reserved pair of seats on, to pick us up at 7, but at 6.45 a Transnica bus for Tegucigalpa (Honduras) which would also pass through Nicaragua came right past and refused to stop. We were left paralyzed in complete disbelief, trying to come to terms with having to take local buses and collectivos to the border and through, a slow messy business.

Just when our spirits were at their lowest ebb at around 7.10, along came another (Central Line) bus also heading for Managua which offered us a ride for $42 to Grenada, which we took like a shot, piled in and had a confortable air-conditioned ride in the front disabled seat with a toilet on hand at the back.

Pan American Costa Rica before the border

Before we knew it we had passed Liberia and suddenly we knew from the litter of stranded articulated trucks and large mobile homes that we were at the border. On the Costa Rican side there was a huge queue and a money tout kindly arranged for us to get right to the head as disabled preferential, but when we came out managed to scam us for half the value of the Costa Rican Colones we were trying to change into Nicaraguan Cordobas, making off with some $8 of our hard earned cash although their luck ran out when I knew the rate for $20 US.

Nicaraguan border control

Then when we got to the Nicaraguan side which was a bleak affair blowing with the dust of endless articulated lorries, the driver took all our passports and sent us to customs, where we faced a ragged confused inspection room, but a Customs man suddenly emerged and waved us through without a search.

Lake Nicaragua

Near Grenada

Then it was plain sailing to Rivas along Lago Nicaragua and then on to Granada, where we caught a taxi and drove to another hostel which was full before settling at the Oasis Hostel, a rambling warren with a small swimming pool and a genuine Oasis garden in the front courtyard.

Oasis Hostel Grenada Nicaragua

Panorama of the Oasis Oasis (click to enlarge)

The kitchen area

More about colourful Granada in the next blog,

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