A vacation from the vacation
05.01.2012 - 05.01.2012
We got to the Nicaragua/Costa Rica border in our cramped taxi and immediately we were greeted with more money grabbing. The city on the Nicaraguan side of the border figured out it can charge tourists a tax to enter the border area, so now it does exactly that. It's not a large tax, but it's money for nothing. Then once we paid the tax we were accosted with guys selling us customs forms for a dollar a piece. These of course are available for free at the actual customs desks but the border crossing is confusing and most tourists just end up paying for the forms. This feeling of everyone trying to get that one last dollar out of you before you left, without any regard as to how that might make you feel as far as returning, was a very consistent feeling in Nicaragua and therefore it was a fitting end to our journey here.
We got through customs and trekked right on through to the Costa Rican side. It was a bizarre 5 minute or so walk. It was like the clouds all of a sudden parted and the sun came out. The birds started chirping. Everything became somehow greener, cleaner, more inviting. You really couldn't put your finger on it exactly but it was like a huge weight was lifted of your shoulders. I swear I could hear that angel trumpet sound that they use in the movies and cartoons when God appears.
The second we got to the Costa Rican border official the bizarro experience continued. A well dressed border guard wearing stylish shades and a smile walked up to us and POLITELY asked for our passports. That's right! There was no scowl on his face and he didn't just put out his hand without making eye contact! He actually smiled and asked! This was surely just a mistake and we were going to herded onto a badly maintained bus by a bunch of people grabbing our bags soon enough. However, as we got to the actual customs there were SIGNS as to where you were supposed to go. Then a guy handing our customs forms appeared and our buddy Patrick yelled "No! don't get those!". I had to explain that the man was not charging us for them even though he was *gasp* smiling.
The crazy loonieness continued at the bus station. There was a properly identifiable bus company rep who spoke some English and was able to tell us the exact price and time for the bus to Liberia on our way to our Playa del Coco destination. In addition, she explained how we were supposed to switch buses, what time they came, and how long it would all take and how much it would cost. When we didn't have the exact change for the bus fare, she actually gave us change! This is not as common as you'd think in Nicaragua. The whole time she was being so nice and friendly that Chad accidentally blurted out "I love you!" at one point and the whole situation turned slightly awkward for a moment.
The last thing that put the nail in Nicaragua's coffin and almost made us all cry happy tears when we left was when the bus left on time! It was not 30-45 minutes late with no explanation as to whats happening! It all happened with a nice announcement that we are leaving a prompt departure. Costa Rica, I Love YOU!