We got ready and loaded onto the bus at 5:45AM for our 12 hour travel day into Costa Rica. After about an hour we reached the port and everyone grabbed some quick snacks at the 2 stands before the ferry arrived. This ferry was a bit nicer than the first one we took to get to Ometepe. We all found seats and sat on the top deck. The entire time there was a little girl kicking the back of my bench and pulling at my hair. However, I managed to get a little big of sleep before reaching the San Jorge port.
After the ferry docked, we picked up our packs and walked over to the ghetto looking bus that was waiting to take us to the border of Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Once we reached the border we grabbed our bags and walked over to the immigration office.
View from the Ferry
We walked past a bunch of dodgy looking shacks selling food and crafts. It felt like everyone was starring at us as we walked up to a small door/gate and into the immigration office area. We filled out our paperwork and then stood in line to pay our exit fees and get our stamps. There were a lot of people waiting in line, exchanging currency, selling hammocks, and even some ladies selling passport covers. I used the bathroom before we crossed into Costa Rica. I had to pay 3 Cordoba to use their facilities. The toilet didn't flush, the toilet seat was cracked, and the door didn't close. To tops things off, the sink didn't have any running water. Instead they had 2 green barrels full of water and a cut up water bottle to use as a water scooper.
Sophisticated plumming system
They had some mixture of bleach and soap in a small plastic water bottle. It was definitely an experience. After everyone received their exit stamps, we literally walked into Costa Rica. We probably walked for 10 minutes with our packs to the office where we filled out more paperwork and got our entrance stamps into Costa Rica. I was so sweaty and tired by the time we finished and got into our bus. It was probably the most hectic border crossing I've experienced so far.
We drove for about 4-5 hours before reaching Monteverde. We stayed at a Bed & Breakfast called Don Taco, it was a pretty nice place with hot water (most of the time). We had a short meeting to discuss the activities we could participate in the next few days.
Welcome to Costa Rica!
I signed up for a Night Walk tonight through Hidden Valley. They picked us up at 5:00PM and drove us to the Hidden Valley nature reserve. There were a bunch of other people joining the tour, we were split up into smaller groups of about 10 people and assigned to a guide. Our guided handed each of us a flashlight and we started our trek through the forest. The flashlights they gave us were pretty sad, I'm glad I brought my own LED flashlight. We saw our first animal eating some food in the forest, it was an agouti. Agouti are large rodents that look like a tailless rat or squirrel. It started getting darker and a few fireflies started to appear throughout the forest which was cool. Next our guide pointed out a spider web inside a hallow tree that belonged to the funnel web spider.
Walking across the Nicaragua/Costa Rica border
The spider created a tunnel/funnel web to keep it's prey away from other spiders. We continued walking toward a large strangler tree that had a raccoon living inside it. There was also a Coatimundi, member of the raccoon family, lurking inside the tree. Our guide told us that they were very aggressive animals and liked to live alone. I was anxious to see some exotic animals through the hike, but the rain from this morning had kept them dormant for the night. The rest of the tour we spotted a tarantula, wolf spider (largest spider in central america), stick bug, migrating bird, and a line of ants. We actually walked into the ant line by accident and a few of them were crawling up our shoes (not fun). We were all a bit paranoid the rest of the trek because we didn't want to accidentally walk through any more ant lines.
Night walk at Hidden Valley
As we continued on, I noticed a large cricket that was hitching a ride on my friends shorts. I told him not to move so that I could gentle flick it off. I didn't tell him why he shouldn't move, which probably freaked him out more. He was hysterical and cursing. I'm not going to lie, it was pretty damn funny. The overall night hike wasn't great because we didn't really see any interesting animals. It's a hit or miss tour I suppose. It was nice to walk through the jungle at night and see all the amazing stars in the beautiful night sky, but not for $20.
After the tour, we met some other people in the group for dinner at a nearby Soda. I ordered the arroz con pollo and mango juice, which were both really good and filling. After dinner, we walked back to the hotel and crashed for the day.