Friday, 30th August 2014
After five nights on the Isla de Ometepe we decided to move on for fear of becoming too settled and not wanting to move at all. The owner of the hostel had come over to us every day to ask what are plans were. We could only say we might stay a few more nights not really knowing what we were dong, we called it at five nights. With a flight booked out of Panama City to Cartagena in Colombia for the 19th September we also had to get a wriggle on. We had a plan to take the local bus to the ferry in Ometepe but found that another couple at our hostel had already booked a taxi to Moyogalpa, where the ferry goes from, so we ended up sharing that. It was by far the easier option and cut the travelling time in half. We got to the ferry terminal in time for the 10am ferry and arrived in San Jorge at around 11:15am where a gaggle of taxi drivers (not sure what the collective term for taxi drivers is, maybe a ‘hassle’) were waiting for us. We managed to get a driver to take us to the Nicaraguan border for US$25, not a bad price I think although you can never be sure. The cab to the ferry terminal in Ometepe was meant to be US$20 but after getting there the driver stood in front of the boot (with our luggage in it) and said the price had gone up to US$7 each, totalling US$28 and not US$20 as was pre-arranged. Nicaragua more than most countries has transport cost inconsistencies and their excuses for why the cost is high is just as infuriating as the cost itself. “Fuel costs a lot”, “it takes an hour” etc. The taxi driver to the border said as much and lo and behold we were there within half an hour. Surprise. Anyway, enough of taxi drivers and their scheming ways. We can afford it I guess.
The Nicaraguan border was a confusing place. We walked with our luggage up to a fenced off area and showed our passport to get into another area where there was the immigration office surrounded by another fence. We had to pay US$1 each to get into this ‘holding pen’ then go up to window and pay US$2 each to get our passports stamped. We then encountered the bus touts who sell you tickets to San Jose and other towns along the way, we would be going to Liberia for one night. It seems as though you have to get a bus if you’re on foot because you would have no idea of where to go from here. We are now in ‘no-man’s land’ between Nicaragua and Costa Rica and at the mercy of these bus touts. We bought tickets for US$12 each to San Jose but we would actually get off in Liberia, not too far into Costa Rica. We are staying there for one night as we didn’t want to do too much or a journey on one day. We waited around for an hour or so for the bus to let us on and eventually we made our way to the Costa Rican border. It was now about 1pm. We got off the bus again, grabbed our bags and walked through the Costa Rican immigration, answered some questions and got our 30-day stamp with nothing to pay. Our bags were scanned and there we were in Costa Rica.
Back on the bus once more and we made our way through some lush Costa Rican countryside towards Liberia. We got to Liberia around 3pm and were unceremonisouly dumped at a petrol station in what looked like the outskirts of town. I tried to ask where in the town we were but got blank looks, but a taxi driver swooped on us being ‘helpful’. We jumped in the cab and paid the US$3 fair for what turned out to be a five minute ride. Liberia isn’t much to look at, I think most people that stop here either use this as a base for exploring the North East of Costa Rica or as a stopover before heading inland as we would do tomorrow. For the rest of our afternoon in Liberia I got some cash out, struggling a bit with the exchanges rates here (500 Colones to the US Dollar) and bought a ticket for the 6am bus the next day towards Monteverde. We had dinner at a nice place near our hostel, a Costa Rican / Colombian place (‘Mariajuana’, yes that’s the name!) and hit the hay with having to get up at 5am on our minds.