Travel day and another border.

Granada Travel Blog

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The Central Cathedral in Granada, Nicaragua. I need a better camera for nighttime shots.
Hello all,
Today was the day I made it to Nicaragua.  I had no alarm clock, so having to wake up at 5am was going to be tricky.  My American mobile phone won't work anywhere in Central America, but in Panama it at least said it was roaming and showed the time.  Here in Costa Rica there was no such luck.  There was no alarm clock in the room either, so I set the clock on the TV, and set it to come on at 5am.  Amazingly it worked!

I decided to trust the intel I'd gotten about the direct bus to the border from nearby El Tanque.  I took a un-official taxi (read guy making a few bucks) there for 2500 colones (about $4.75).  I asked the only guy waiting at the stop if this was the place, he said yes and then was picked up by friends/co-workers before I could ask about the time.  While waiting the hour until 7am, I saw three different busses from La Fortuna arrive on the other side of the street.  I guess I could have saved $4 if I was sure the bus was 7am instead of 6am.

The bus showed up at 7:02am, and I breathed a huge sigh of relief.  There were maybe eight people on the bus, and I was the only gringo.  None of the cities are on the 'tourist route', so it must be a real secret.  The bus was only 2150 Colones ($4) all the way to the border direct.  Nice!  We did make a 50 minute stop in Upala, which was long enough to get some breakfast at a market stall counter.  These places with no menus are the toughest for my bad spanish, but I managed to order fried eggs, rice, tortillas, and a sweet fried banana.  Good stuff and a nice woman running the place.

The rest of the bus ride was about halfway on an unpaved road, which made it really tough to get a nap.  We joined the main highway towards the end, and arrived at the border 30 minutes later at about 11:45am.  The exit line in Costa Rica was very long, and it didn't help that the only other Americans in line were being held up for about 20 minutes at the front of the line.  It was a long walk to the Nicaragua side, at least a kilometer, before the refreshingly short line for my entry stamp.

Another walk of about a kilometer got me to the bus stop.  I asked a few people about the bus situation, and they said there were no direct busses to Granada, that I would have to change in Rivas.  At that point I started listening to the pitches of all of the taxi drivers.  They offered to take me all the way to Granada for $35, but I managed to talk them down to a Rivas ride for only $7.  The taxi driver was a nice guy, and we managed a rudimentary Spanglish conversation along the way.  He took me right to the bus station and showed me exactly where I would need to be.  There was an hour wait until the Granada bus, so I hit an internet spot to kill some time.

I grabbed the bus for 22 Cordobas ($3.15) and took the only available spot, the narrow seat over the wheel hump.  Now understand that this was the worst bus yet.  It was an old Canadian School Bus, and it really reminds you how small kids are and how small we all used to be.  The bus was about 90 minutes, and it dropped me off at... well I had no idea where I was.  I walked through a market area towards what I guessed was the center square.  I made to the delightful little square within about 10 minutes, and found a tourist office.  The hotel I had planned on was a another four blocks.

The Hotel Kekoldi is three blocks from the square in a nice quiet neighborhood.  The room has A/C, cable TV, and there is free Wi-Fi if I prop my laptop up on the trash can near the window.  The air conditioner has some kind of a shutoff after 45 minutes or so that is really annoying, and it really hasn't gotten the room nice and freezing yet.

So I guess I got from place to place for $18.90 with not a ton of hassle, so that's not so bad.  Tomorrow will be mostly a down day, then maybe on Thursday I can get a tour to Volcan Mombacho just south of town.

I just realized I wrote 7+ paragraphs and nothing really happened.  I really need to learn to edit myself.

Later, Phil
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The Central Cathedral in Granada, …
The Central Cathedral in Granada,…
photo by: monoli