Goodbye Antonio, Hello Costa Rica

Antonio and I had been traveling together for two weeks.  We had shared a lot of meals, played a lot of chess, and cycled through three countries (El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua).  Antonio wanted to stay in Nicaragua to find some volunteer work, and I wanted to keep moving.  We shared our last supper in Rivas, after getting a ferry back to the mainland from Ometepe.

Nica_LastSupper

A weird goodbye photo.  Short-looking Antonio.

Nica_Goodbye_Antonio

It wasn’t too far to Costa Rica.

CR_Welcome

But the border crossing took about an hour and a half.  The Nicaragua side was bullshit too.  They charged me $1 to enter the border zone, then $2 to exit the country.

CR_Border

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Ometepe, Nicaragua

Antonio and I went to Ometepe island in the middle of Lake Nicaragua.  The island has two volcanoes.  I was told it was a mystical place.  It was cool but there wasn’t much to do there besides hike one of the two volcanoes.  And after I got over there, I didn’t feel like hiking either — 10 hour roundtrip hikes.

ometepeisla

Antonio and I took the ferry over.  The water was really choppy, but Antonio decided to sit on the railing.  His bike fell over and as he picked it up, the bike tipped over again and he went with it, his body slamming into the metal bench.  It was an embarrassing moment; him and his heavy bike being thrown around.

Ometepe_Ferry

I went for a ride around the island.

Ometepe_Bike

This horse was so thin.

Nica_Skinny_Horse

The road turned to dirt.

Ometepe_Mud_Bike

Lake Nicaragua is really windy all the time.

Ometepe_Beach

Mud pits.

Ometepe_Puddle

Rain Storm

On our ride from Corinto to La Paz Centro, Nicaragua, Antonio and I stopped for a drink at a tienda. As we were sitting, we noticed really dark clouds moving towards us, so we decided to wait a few minutes to see what happened. I moved my bike underneath the awning, and sat happily with Antonio, waiting for the storm.

Nica_Eoin_Biking

A few minutes later, heavy wind gusts caught us off guard. Before I could react, one gust punched my bike, knocking it over violently, tearing up the handlebar tape in two places. As I was cursing the wind, the rain came. Hurricane-like rain. The 10-foot-long awning didn’t help much. I was wet and victimized. I thrust myself up against my bike, trying to protect it from the rain. The tienda owner told Antonio and I to come inside. Panicked and in emergency-mode, I prepared myself and my bike for the short dash through the rain.

Nica_Storm_Eoin

Inside, we were accompanied by other rain refugees, many of them kids. I had bought a large pack of cookies earlier that day and hadn’t opened them yet. I figured this was the time. The cookies’ destiny. I went around the room, offering a small packet to everyone. To my surprise, everyone took one. And unfortunately, it wasn’t like the loaves and fishes – they disappeared quickly, and I was lucky to come away with one small packet for myself.

Nica_Storm_Girls

Twenty minutes later, the hard rain was over. Antonio and I were lucky to have stopped and realized the storm that was approaching. The strength of that wind and rain easily could have knocked us into an oncoming truck.

Shit in the Wild

On the road to Chinandega, Nicaragua, Antonio and I stopped in the shade for some water. I felt an urgent need for a toilet. I knew this was going to be a bad one.

I got the toilet paper out of my bag and hustled into the brush to find some cover. Without time to spare, as I was feeling it coming quickly, I pulled down my stinking padded shorts, braced myself against a chain-linked fence, and I let it fly. Liquid poo. Close to diarrhea, but without the spray effect, and less water. A light-brown sludge. Oh man, it was bad.

Hond_Eoin_Road

It’s difficult here though as there really aren’t any facilities en route where you can just stop and run in to use the toilet. Only at hotels and some restaurants.

Average Daily Spending

I’ve been keeping track of how much I’ve been spending each day in Nicaragua. It’s been an average of $15 per day. Hotel room with fan for $5, three $2-$3 meals a day (~$8), gallon of water for $1, and an hour of internet for $1.

Cuco_Eoin_Biking

It would be nice to cut down on these costs even more with some free camping (or CouchSurfing), but it’s nice to have the comfort and security of a bed, and for only $5. Plus it’s the rainy season.

Central American Entry Fees

Here is what I had to pay when I entered each of these countries (July 2009).

Guatemala: ~$1 (I forget exactly)
El Salvador: free (and they don’t even stamp your passport)
Honduras: $3
Nicaragua: $10 [$7 to enter with lots of paperwork, then $1 to enter the border area in Sapoa at Costa Rican border (weird), then $2 to exit the country, paid only in Cordobas or US Dollars (so don’t change your money until you get to the other side – I made that mistake)]
Costa Rica: free (but long lines at Penas Blancas, coming from Nicaragua)
Panama: $1 (for a stupid passport sticker you buy from an unofficial-looking guy who hangs out by the immigration area, but apparently you need it)

You get 90 days of travel within the four countries of “centroamerica:” Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua.