The beautiful part about having a tourist visa in Costa Rica is essentially you are forced to leave the country every 90 days for 72 hours in order to return legally back into Costa Rica. While it can be an inconvenience to many, putting a hold on everything that is demanded of you, to leave the country to travel to another country (god forbid) – it is a good wake up call and reminder to relax, remove yourself from adopting a senseless well oiled daily routine to explore the other countries so close to my proximity.
For this tourist visa run, I am venturing into Nicaragua. More specifically, the tiny surf town of San Juan del Sur. Initially, I had decided to do my 90 days tourist run this weekend, so that I would have some time to plan and get ready. But yesterday, I was notified that we had a big group of surfers coming for the surf camp on Wednesday and I wanted to be back at least mid week during their camp. So as of 12 PM this afternoon, I decided this destination & booked my Ticabus ticket at the local travel agency in Jaco.
While I have the same feeling that I had when I first ventured into unknown territory back in July from Vancouver to Seattle, this feeling is a little different. I am still traveling on my own, with more unknowns (knowing very little of the Spanish language, completely different transit systems, absolutely no cell phone signals & now carrying a massive 6’3 ft surfboard with me) – I surprisingly feel more at ease this time around. Traveling solo anywhere is the same – you depend on the goodness of people around you, you learn to observe every aspect of your surroundings and you get smarter about when and where to go. With that said, if I don’t post to Facebook or Tweet about arriving in Nicaragua in the hostel by at least 10 PM tomorrow evening, please notify the local enforcements. I am staying at Casa Oro (pending availability) and they promised free Wi-Fi & Internet.
I am currently looking at a folded two-sided piece of paper with scribbled down notes from after talking with a few people about how to get from where I live all the way to Nicaragua, through a series of buses. I would have preferred to take a direct flight (snobby, yes I know) in the interest of saving time, but at least this way, will allow me to enjoy the view and truly practice my level of patience. Apparently, I will be waiting… alot.
A snippet of my “directions” from Jaco Beach, Costa Rica to San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua:
- Take the 8:30 am / 9:00 am bus from Quepos to Puntarenas (I live in Jaco, Puntarenas is the next town north that connects to the bus lines from San Jose to the border
- Get out at the Hilton hotel
- Ask them to call you a taxi to take me to “4 cruces de Miramar”
- Get out at the Shell station (that’s right, there is no fancy bus stop or sign that says “Tica Bus here”, just a bunch of people on the side of the road. I better bring sun protection)
- You will probably be here around 11:00/11:30 am, the Tica Bus will pass around 2:00 PM (Great, 2.5 hours to kill. In the sun. With my board.)
- Once it gets close to 2:00 PM, cross and wait for the Ticabus, as they will not wait for you.
- The Ticabus will walk you as a group to pass the border. Give your passport to the representative and walk across the border and meet them at the other side.
- You will arrive in Rivas around 8:00 PM
Now this is where it gets sketchy. I have a few recommendations to stay in Rivas because apparently you don’t want to travel at night in Nicaragua. And then I also have recommendations to take a taxi from Rivas (the border of Nicaragua/Costa Rica) straight to San Juan del Sur because it is unsafe in Rivas at night and nowhere to stay.
And because I only have a board bag for a 7’2 ft surfboard, I hope my make shift board bag for the 6’3 ft surfboard doesn’t get me into alot of trouble at the border – that is, if they ask me to open my bag to check what’s inside. I have a feeling I’d be keeping the line up unraveling this rope.
Nonetheless, I shall see what the conditions are like when I arrive in Nicaragua by nightfall. Hopefully, I meet some friendly taxi drivers, or other travelers, or maybe – I meet the Nicaraguan president by fluke who will invite me to surf on the breaks on his own private island. Who knows? Oh, the joys of traveling solo.