Crossed the border from Nicaragua into Costa Rica and I´m excited to be in yet another new country ... they are coming thick & fast now ... however , I think probably actually too fast & this is now starting to give me some second thoughts about whether I´m doing the right thing trying to whizz through the highlights of many countries in a pretty short time or maybe it would be better to slow down & see less countries in somewhat more depth. At this stage I´m not now going to change any of the plans for Central America but certainly this is something I´m starting to contemplate when it comes to the South American part of my trip - ten countries in seven months for South America has always been ambitious bordering on unrealistic & my current experience is supporting that notion .
.. so it maybe that I decide to pick fewer countries . It's just really hard to prioritise because they are all such exciting destinations and I want to see them all ... I can honestly say I haven't heard a bad word about any South American country from fellow travellers who've been down there - everyone simply seems to love and sing the praises of everywhere they've been. Anyway , back to the here-and-now of Nicaragua to Costa Rica.
It was a relatively smooth if quite long journey to get across the border, starting with a two-hour bus ride from Merida to Moyogalpa on Ometepe and the ferry to San Jorge. Then I shared a taxi with an Aussie couple I had met in Merida from San Jorge port right down to the Nicaragua / Costa Rica border at Penas Blancas as it saved a bit of time and didn't work out much more expensive than the couple of buses needed.
They went on to San Jose
whereas I caught the bus for the short one-hour journey to Liberia. So then time for some closing thoughts on Nicaragua and as per my above comments , two weeks seemed to really whizz by fast and I actually managed only four stopover points - Leon , Managua , Granada and Ometepe. One immediately apparent (even if somewhat obvious) thing you notice about Nicaragua is that it´s a really poor country , even by comparison to other Central American republics , but still that the local people are for the most part very friendly , fun-loving and humourous. Granada certainly lived up to it's expectations as one of the fave backpacker haunts in Central America & I enjoyed it's colonial architecture , happening travellers scene / nightlife , the Lake Nicaragua setting and the nearby attractions of Masaya & the Laguna de Apoya .
Granada is clearly one of the places that seem to be making Nicaragua cool & popular - whilst naturally this brings the much needed tourist income , it also brings the paradox that ultimately the character of the place is changed and I think Granada is on its way towards being like Antigua Guatemala ...not sure this is necessarily a good thing. Ometepe island was wonderful with its amazing volcano scenery and I enjoyed making the effort to get out of my lakeside hammock for the trekking , mountain biking and the hard-won conquest of another volcano. Managua was just weird for want of a better word, with it's eerie quiet and lack of people - of all the capital cities I have been to that many people say to avoid (Mexico City , Guatemala City , Tegucigalpa and Managua) this is the one that I find myself in agreement .
.. avoid it and you wont miss much. Finally , Leon in the North was mainly memorable for its number of colonial churches and the references to the 1979 revolution, being the place where Nicaragua's politics & recent history was most in evidence (naturally not surprisingly as it was a fierce Sandinista stronghold) such as in the revolutionary museum , the university , the various statues/buildings/monuments and the murals painted around the city ... elsewhere in Nicaragua there seem to be surprisingly few cues to it's recent political history. So that was Nicaragua and I would have liked to have spent more time there to get more beneath the surface but looking forward to my adventures in Costa Rica.