Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Three Days in San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua

As we are still waiting for Costa Rica to approve us for our Cedulars (Residency Cards), we were once again headed out of the country.  Panama was sounding interesting, although a much longer bus ride and chatting with our travel agent, we decided to return once again to Nicaragua.  This time, however, I wanted to go to the beach!! Not only was it closer, but we had already been to Granada twice and we were both ready for a change!

Before sharing San Juan Del Sur with you, we wanted to show you a bit of what we experience going from Costa Rica to Nicaragua.  We leave our house about 6:20 a.m. on the local Berlin to San Ramon bus loaded down with our full backpacks.  Once arriving in San Ramon we walk to the Pista (the main highway through Costa Rica) on the edge of town.  As we had some time before our bus arrived, we stopped for coffee and something to eat and a nearby Soda.  Back to the Pista to wait and board our bus at about 8:00 a.m.  The buses are nice and similar to a Greyhound in the U.S.  Not real roomy but relatively comfortable and equipped with a bathroom--Whew!  The ride to the border is approximately 4 hours through beautiful country.  This trip we packed a lunch, however, along the way the bus stops to pick up a vender with food and drinks to sell until the point at which he departs the bus.  An interesting note. You purchase a bus ticket from San Jose, Costa Rica, to Managua, Nicaragua, no matter where you plan to pick up or depart the bus along the way.  We were traveling from San Ramon, Costa Rica, to Rivas, Nicaragua.  In order to reach San Juan Del Sur, we were told to take a taxi from Rivas.  Ouch!!  $18.00 one way for about a 15 minute drive!  On the return trip we discovered option #2--THE BUS!  For $1.00 each we took the bus back to Rivas.  We were happy budget travelers!!

After riding in the bus for 4 or so hours, you arrive at the border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua.  Upon arriving we are asked to depart the bus and the process begins.  It is a little different coming and going and, as I have to take a little extra medication for my RLS, I'm a little drugged and am not sure of all the exact steps.  As we leave the bus someone takes our passports and the bus drives to the other side of the border where everyone's luggage is removed and searched on this long wooden table.  Once this is completed we are left to our own devices until our passports are returned and we resume our journey.  The difficult part for us is everything is explained by the bus driver -- in Spanish -- so, not having a clue what we are supposed to do, we just follow the masses and hope for the best!

There are all kinds of interesting things to see.  There is a large platform across from where our gear is searched and the venders are selling different varieties of food, shoes, belts, wallets, etc.  There are also a number of money changers who walk around with a big wad of money and offer to change your currency from what you have to what you may need.

There is a huge selection of food, much of which we do not recognize.  It is usually very warm, there are a number of hungry dogs hanging around and everyone seems happy and content with their situation, except for some of the bus passengers.  Fortunately, the platform has a roof which gives the venders and ourselves relief from the hot sun.

Walk to the other side of the vender's platform and there is a more official building where our passports are stamped and the bathrooms are located!  Someone sits outside the restrooms to collect your money and hand you your allotment of toilet tissue!

This vender wanders around selling leather purses, belts and wallets.  It's a hard life and I am grateful for mine!!

These are the buses we ride.  Ours is the Tica Bus which is the second from the left.  They are many times Mercedes or Volvos, not a bad ride for us budget travelers!

Four trucks that we assumed were traveling together waiting to be processed across the border!

Once our passports have been processed they are returned to us.  An official stands outside the bus with a stack of passports and calls out each individual by name requiring us to remove hats and glasses while we are matched to our passport photo before being allowed to return to our assigned seats!  We are once again on our way and excited that Rivas, our stop, is only about an hour from the border crossing.  The crossing process takes about an hour and we arrive in Rivas about 2:00, catch a taxi and soon arrive at San Juan Del Sur!

Welcome to San Juan Del Sur!  As we enter the little ocean town this is what we see!

Our taxi driver dropped us at the door of Chaley's House where we had made reservations on line.  Leaving our stuff in the room, we headed for the beach!  We were not disappointed!  The beach was sheltered with a small surf and surrounded by tall hills.  Along the edge were a number of thatched roof places to eat and it was all very quaint.

At one end of the beach we discovered a wonderful footbridge and enjoyed the view and the experience of walking across.

From the bridge we discovered these beautiful designs in the sand that appeared to be made by some unknown creature.  Unfortunately, the were much more interesting in person.

As it became later in the day we stopped at one of the restaurants along the beach for Happy Hour, dinner and a spectacular sunset!

The drinks, food, company and atmosphere were wonderful and, as you can see, Don was a happy camper!!  I was too!!

1 comment:

Matt Rose said...

Such great pictures, thanks for taking us along with you on your journey, looks like a blast! Very colorful, I love that.