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adventures of a not so grey nomad

Nicaragua -Costa Rica (aka the day from hell)

COSTA RICA | Thursday, 29 July 2010 | Views [403]

Isla Ometepe -Costa Rica 22 July

Time to leave our lovely island home where we had relaxed and had a chance to appreciate the surroundings. The previous morning we had gone for a horse ride-along tracks through the tropical bush and along the beach. The horses don't wear metal bits-only bridles made from strands of nylon twine but they respond well to these and are well behaved generally. My horse, Torrito, was a grumpy, stroppy thing-he seemed determined to knock me out of the saddle by heading for the lowest overhead branch he could find. At one point he avoided the water option and took me through a maze of tree branches -I still have the scratches to prove it! We had a couple of water crossings-both times he would stop in the deepest part and start “pawing”at the water with his left foreleg-I don't know if he was just playing, frightened of the water or just out to splash me! It was a struggle at times asserting who was the boss in this relationship! It was so lovely though-out in the morning sun in the peace and quiet-just the sounds of the horses hooves on the track, countryside around us and the view of the lake. The downside was very sore knees which made getting off rather difficult and unladylike and saddle sores which lasted until a good couple of days later.

Back on the truck and ute for a quick 10 minute trip to the ferry terminal- I say terminal but in fact it was just a rough bit of road to where the car ferry docked. No chicken ferry this time-hooray! After our first ferry crossing this was bliss-luckily we had smooth sailing again-(wonderful for a lake so renown for rough crossings) we had seats up on the top deck -it was dry and sunny and there was even a cafe if you fancied a coffee. As we sailed away I had a wonderful view of the island and the two volcanoes -it was clear and sunny but I couldn't capture it on camera-so frustrating. We had trucks on board-one loaded with watermelons and another with pigs! There was the usual man with a gun in charge-ready for action but luckily this crossing was peaceful-no sign of any argy bargy on the 1 ½ hour trip.

From the ferry we caught a crowded local minibus with standing room only which took us to a bus station where we caught another bus to the border. At this stop we picked up more passengers and got the usual lot of vendors coming on board trying to sell us everything from chicken and chips to peanuts. Buses are great for sitting and observing the general population. So many people selling food-no wonder there are some very voluptuous women about- wearing tight jeans and revealing tops-everything on display! And frilly aprons-seems to be a fashion necessity -the frillier the better!

An hour later we got to the border crossing-total chaos! Muddy,wet, crowded, hot and humid and sooooo slow! We had to pay $US1 to pass through a gate and have our passport checked then Ronnie-the tour leader-collected our passports and $US22 departure tax and went off to do the real formalities. We sat and waited-and waited-and waited-it took ages! We watched as people had their luggage checked-searched is too strong a word- it looked as if they had been shopping somewhere and were bringing their goodies back into the country-in some cases huge bags full of stuff. We changed our Nicaraguan cordobas to Costa Rican colones-518=$1US1 and felt rich. We paid to go to the loo-it should have been free as the floor was wet and slippery-there was no soap and no running water-we had to collect water in a bottle and pour it into the loo to flush it -and no paper towels!

Formalities completed – at least an hour later-we had to make our way through no man 's land to the Costa Rican immigration section-about 15-20 minutes walk away. I took the easy option of getting a ride for me and my pack in a cyclo. Poor cyclo man-the road was full of puddles and potholes-it was hard going and there were 103( according to Lynn) trucks lined up waiting to go through which made the place so congested-absolute chaos! We came to a building and went down a side path to find the Costa Rica entry and departure office. I would hate to do it on my own-how do people know here to go? Here we waited again-not so much for immigration as that was very straightforward -but for a bus to take us on the first leg to Monteverde. We got dropped off at a BBQ restaurant which had a huge Brahmin cow statue out front-making mooing sounds! Time enough to have a frozen cappuchino-basically coffee icecream with a little milk-blended-and served with cream and a cherry garnish-devine! From here we took minivans for 1 ½ hours over steep, winding, bumpy, rutted, unsealed gravel roads in a storm with rain, thunder and lightening. I was worried that my drink may reappear but our driver was great-he took his time and took the bends slowly. In total it took 5 vehicles to get us to Monteverde-mainly non airconditioned, crowded public buses with people getting on and off all the way. We had no less than 5 police checks on the buses, sometimes only 20 minutes apart. Each time they looked at our passport and even though police checks are common in Costa Rica-this was a lot-they must have been looking for someone in particular-we thought it would never end. Finally we arrived at lovely hotel Historia-our room seemed new, smelling of new timber, cosy and comfortable and with a lovely bathroom with a hot shower! We were all tired after a huge travel day and after dinner at a nearby restaurant it was time for bed-no energy even for facebook!


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