The day started early and ended late... a lot was packed into those 16+ hours. So much that it's going to take me about 3 days of blogs to just show the high lights.
First off, when we entered Costa Rica in December, our visa is for a 90 day stay. So folks who stay more than 90 days must at some point leave the country - get their passports stamped that they've left... then re-enter the country - getting a new 90 day visa. The bordering countries are Panama to the south and Nicaragua, to the north. Makes sense to take the 2 hour trip north and spend some time in Nicaragua. So much so that there are daily tours that make all the arrangements and help you through all the hoopla of customs, immigration and the whole thing.
The bus picked us up at 5:00 Monday morning. It was still dark... we had several other folks to pick up, including our friends, Steve and Ann, before stopping for breakfast in Liberia, the city that's about an hour east of us.
That's Ann and Steve... directly across from Bill. The tour guide took our breakfast orders while enroute to the restaurant... we had a choice of American or Typical Costa Rican.
That's a typical Costa Rican breakfast on the left... Scrambled eggs, black beans and white rice cooked together and tortillas. On the right is the American... scrambled eggs, bacon and toast. I couldn't even remember the last time I had a piece of toast, and even though it wasn't whole wheat.. it was delicious. Yeah, the other is too, but I wanted that toast!
We left Liberia... headed up the PanAmerican Highway. Maybe 50 miles or so? I know it was scenic and we changed elevation several times. Once we even had a spattering of rain on the windshield.
Not much of the road was this free of traffic. In fact, there were trucks, busses of all kinds, motorcycles, even horse drawn carts... all vying for space on a fairly narrow road.
As we neared the border there were check-stations.... In the restaurant, Luis, our guide had given us documents to fill out to get us through immigration.
Bill & I had considered taking the chicken bus on this trip... doing it on our own... but with all the hoops you have to jump through, Luis made it much easier. Besides that, I was in a front seat and could watch Luis as he prepared for each check point. He'd get a few dollars out of his billfold, fold it discreetly and palm it, while holding the bus passenger schedule or other document in his hand. When whoever came on board to accept the paper, they "discreetly" palmed the money. It was so slick... except for one guy who was quite obvious, I would never have known what was going on.
You have to go through the Costa Rica side to leave the country....
Get your passport stamped... it's fairly quick, but there can be long lines.
In the area between the Costa Rican Customs/Immigration building and the Nicaraguan building, is an area called "no man's land". You're officially out of Costa Rica but not officially in Nicaragua yet.
It's a shoppers paradise....
Duty free liquor, perfume, cigarettes... all nicely displayed for happy shoppers. And outside, the local vendors sell food, handmade articles, sun glasses, watches (yeah, Rolex!), and various other items.
Luis takes everyone's passport and other documents into the building and gets them all stamped while we tourists shop to our heart's content.
Finally, we are done with all those governmental things... and on our way to our grand tour.
Yeah... that's a big billboard on the right...
Our first stop is along side the road...
We stop alongside a windmill farm. Look between these two ... that volcano is in the middle of the lake. We'll be visiting another volcano and the crater lake created hundreds of years ago. We'll be walking to the edge of a volcano that still spits out stones and debris... and we'll be wandering through the town of Granada.... And near the end of our tour we'll be taken on a boat ride on the largest natural lake in the world.
That's our bus... that's Ann and Steve in front.... we're all ready to get back on board and start the Nicaraguan part of our day.
It was Bill's birthday.... when we booked the tour we didn't realize what day it would be, but it was a terrific was to celebrate. Happy Birthday to my sweetie!
There'll be a couple more posts about this trip, but for now...
That's All For Today!