This weekend we did the 72 hour visa run from Costa Rica. Most expats here are forced to do this at some point before their work permits are properly in process or in case they just want to stay a bit longer in this lovely country than what the 3 month you get on the Tourist Visa offers you.
So for our 72 hours outside the country we decided to explore our new neighbour, Nicaragua. I was quite excited about seeing the country, and would have loved to explore more of it, but at the same time, the beach was calling and we ended up deciding on going to San Juan del Sur instead of backpacking around.
TicaBus has an excellent bus service all through central America, from Mexico all the way down to Panama. We had heard a lot of good things about it and decided to go with them instead of paying 10 times as much to go by plane. But although we were travelling on a budget we decided to treat ourselves a bit and travel in style with their Executive Service. Even if you travel by bus, you might as well travel in Ejecutivo style..
But yeah, travelling executive style can be defined in so many different ways, and I guess my interpretation was somewhat in conflict with TicaBus’.
The good thing with this service was that it meant we left the TicaBus station at 3am, got to the border around 8am and bam, arrived at our hotel in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua, at 9.30am. It turned out to be a fairly painless journey, except for my shocking first encounter with the Burger King Croissan’wich.
In addition to the great travel time, the second perk you get if you travel executive style, they serve you a quick breakfast on the bus in Liberia before you get to the border. They don’t happen to mention though that they are in partnership with BurgerKing and that what you get is a little box consisting of the Croissan’wich and two sweeties. Cholesterol, fat and sugar – all you need for a perfect start to your day.
It looks pretty special, feels quite spongy and I bet the whole thing can be made by just squeesing some paste into a mold and heating that up for a bit… Well, I did give it a shot and tasted it, thinking maybe this is an acquired taste that demands some getting used to, but no. Definitely not worth it. My body is my temple and I think having this in me would definitely be something of a sacrilige..
Anyhow, lets move on.. There is lots more to tell! 🙂
So we ended up heading to San Juan del Sur (SJdS), a lovely little town about 40mins from the border. The town is actually a little fishing village that has become something of a surf town, attracting lots of young travellers from all over the world. Currently the 21st season of CBS’s Survivor is also being filmed there, so unfortunately this means there are lots of limitations to where you are allowed to go etc due to the filming.
We had booked ourselves in to a lovely little hotel, Aventura Lodge and after having been picked up by them from the boarder we spent Friday exploring the town and trying out some restaurants and the daiquiris while simultaneously sorting out the important bookings for the weekend.. I.e. booking transport and boards for a trip to the beach.
In SJdS there are loads of different surf companies who will happily rent you boards as well as get you out to the many different beaches near by. Board rentals are about $10/day and the shuttle $5 return ticket.
Due to the massive swell that Nicaragua, and the whole of Central America was enjoying this weekend, we ended up at Remanso, a beginners beach, so that I could jump in as well.. Although, this weekend it was definitely not the typical beginner conditions that the enclosed, horse shoe shaped beach usually enjoys. With the swell at 10ft the beach looked more like a jacuzzi with waves closing out the whole beach at times. I rode a mini mal on Saturday, something I really enjoyed! Before moving on to an egg for the next day when the swell had dropped a couple of feet.
Following our two surf excursions on Saturday and Sunday morning we ventured up the hill in SJdS to take a look at the views from the Christ statue that stood tall, overlooking the town and sea. Cleverly enough we headed off in the midst of the midday heat for this vertical climb that was part of the approximately 10km hike… I think I easily dropped a dress size simply thanks to the loss of a couple of pints of body fluids following this hike.. I dont think I have enjoyed a pool as much as I did enjoy the hotel pool when we jumped in upon our return.. My god cool water is simply amazing..
That evening we had a gorgeous meal at a fantastic restaurant called El Colibri. Owned by a British woman and serving delicious mediterranean food, we had some of the best fallafel we have ever tasted as well as a gorgeous meal in a beautiful setting in our attempt to regain some of the calories we had lost during our adventures that day. In general we have eaten incredibly well in Nicaragua, both at somewhat touristy restaurants as well as in more local settings such as the local food market, and it is definitely cheaper than Costa Rica.
The next day we were due to head off to Rivas pretty early to catch the TicaBus for our return to CR. Got to the bus in time, arrived at the border at about 10am on schedule, but then our luck ran out. The bus broke down and we ended up being stuck at the border for a good 4-5hours while they sorted out another bus for us as well as got us as well as the new bus with all the luggage over to the Costa Rican side. All this meant yesterday turned into a massive 12 hour long journey that I was very pleased to be done with when we finally arrived home at about 8pm to a super excited Sofia (who obviously peed on the floor of pure excitement)
After an eventful 72hours away, I am very pleased to be back home though. Its wonderful to travel around and see new places, but nothing beats the home on the mountains. And I missed Sofia lots and lots as well. (Big thank you to Dan for taking great care of her!)
But now I am just going to take it easy, very easy, until our next trip is due. My whole body still aches from my battles in the waves, the massive hike in incredible heat as well as all the sitting at the border as well as in a somewhat uncomfortable bus. I think a few days of rest following my holiday will do me good. Just so I will be ready to hit the waves again by next weekend! I love where we live!