Costa Rica and Nicaragua

Costa Rica Day 10
Another night in the tent, which was so much fun. It was also quite interesting to share a bathroom block with loads of other people – meeting people for the first time as you stand side by side brushing your teeth together is a funny way to meet. The next day we packed up and got a ‘jeep boat jeep’ to Monteverde, which I was really looking forward to – it’s a cloud forest and I love things like that.

On the first leg of the journey I sat next to two Australian girls, Annika and Olivia, who were on their way to Cuba in a few days, so I gave them lots of tips based on my very recent (good and bad) experiences. Then we got to Monteverde, Santa Elena actually, a town near the cloud forest, and stayed in the same hostel as the Aussies. That afternoon we all went on a zip lining tour where you whiz above the forest on about 12 normal ziplines and a one-kilometre ‘Superman’ line where you’re suspended facing down and your feet are held in so you fly over the canopy – it was brilliant! Except the end of the line came and I was still going really fast, which was just a little bit scary. I survived though, in case you were wondering.

After that we went out for dinner with the girls and we all love sushi so decided to splash out. I ordered a ‘love boat’, literally a little wooden ship they put the sushi in, and the chef decorated it and everything, well worth the $20!

It was straight to bed after that as we were so tired.

Day 11
We had a bit of a lie-in this morning then went to Monteverde at 2pm. We did three of the marked trails on our own and it took three hours, although we thought we were running out of time at the end and really wanted to see the waterfall (which was underwhelming by the way) so we actually ran through the forest to get there! Then when we came out of the park the staff was packing up to go home so we asked them to call a taxi for us hoping they’d offer us a ride back (there’s only one road in and out) but they didn’t, so we accosted two groups of people coming out of the forest to share a cab and got really frosty responses. I think we lost the ‘blag a freebie’ mojo that day.

Then came a turning point in our travelling. Maybe it was because we’d gone over the holiday time period and moved into travelling time, but there was a definite shift, and we finally felt like real travellers. It happened over a couple of days and started with us making dinner of pasta in the hostel kitchen while watching YouTube videos and then toasting marshmallows on the gas hob. They were so good. Then the next morning we had to be up at 3.50am to catch a bus…

Day 12
Today started at ridiculously early as we had to catch a bus that was to be the first of several legs of a journey to Nicaragua. The first bus was just a local coach, but it was a two-hour journey up a bumpy and windy road. Just as I got a bag out cos I was starting to feel sick, a kid two rows back puked in the aisle. So for the next hour we all sat with our feet hovering in the air and scarves over our mouths.

Finally we got off the stinky pukey bus and as per our instructions, sat on the Pan American Highway waiting for bus number two, which we were promised would be a 5-star bus with a toilet and that the bus driver would arrange all our immigration stuff. Of course this wasn’t the case. After waiting at the bus stop with two English people, an American guy (who has now become our Nicaragua travel buddy) and two Costa Ricans for a couple of hours we crossed the street and ordered a takeaway breakfast. As soon as our eggs started sizzling the bus came. Ran out of the café without paying. Got on the bus and our assigned seats were taken so we were dotted about the bus. The toilet was only there so they could say there was one and immigration was a mess – we got off the bus in two different places and had to queue for hours, then got charged $13 entry into Nicaragua only to see on the visa it cost $10. The driver also held everyone’s passports for ages. Little worrying. Another stint on the bus and then we got off in the middle of nowhere and found two women standing around who seemed to represent a bus stop. The bus came (it looked awesome, like a jazzed up American school bus with paintings and streamers) and we had to stand, looking stupid as the only tourists, with our big bags and everything. But the people were so nice and two people offered for me to sit down. It was great fun and we got some good tips about our destination. We decided that out of the four places we wanted to visit in Nicaragua that San Juan Del Sur would be first as it was closest. Kinda sick of being on the move, we’d been up since 3.50am remember. So we ended up in the hippy surfy beach town (me, Emma and Jordan, an American bird guy we met on the puke bus) and looked at about 10 different rooms before picking one. To be fair the rooms were so gross and really expensive. One of them had no sink in the bathroom, and none had hot water. We soon realised after choosing a room that the fact that we wanted hot water was laughable – there wasn’t any water in the whole town full stop.

Which brings me to the next chapter of the crusty traveller turning point. We had to wash ourselves in a bucket of rainwater. Not only that but the toilet of course wouldn’t flush (and we were sharing the room with a boy which made the whole thing kinda embarrassing) so we had to tip rainwater into the cistern to flush it…

That night we were looking up and down the beachfront restaurants to find somewhere decent to eat when an American guy sitting on a wall told us about a place that does really huge burgers for $5 that even two people would struggle to finish. Well, Emma ate the whole thing. I was so impressed. Halfway through, Jordan promised to pay for it if she finished, convinced she wouldn’t. It was a sight to behold, and she said she wasn’t even full after. A lot of respect! I couldn’t even eat half, so put it in the bar’s fridge for the next day (I forgot it of course). Then a circus act and a reggae band came on and it turned into a brilliantly lively venue, with people dancing reggae-style – it was a lot of fun, but I only watched!

Day 13
Today, after wandering around the cute hippy town’s market and buying lots of awesome stuff (a dress, purse, big bag and small bag) we packed up and made a move for Isle de Ometepe, a short-ish journey to a double-volcano island in the middle of Lake Nicaragua. The boat had all the seats downstairs and a couple of seats upstairs in the open. I decided to stand up top and get splashed by the waves. It was a lot of fun, but then when I popped downstairs to check on Emma she was looking decidedly green. I dragged her outside to get some air and to look at the horizon but she looked so terrible and I was concerned that she’d spray all the passengers if she puked! She spent about half an hour with her head hanging over the side, but she toughed it out and held her pancakes down. Then she said she’s had the vomiting bug three times and never did she feel as bad as she did on the boat. And she doesn’t even get motion sickness, it was just such a crazy bumpy ride. When we got to the port we met a French Canadian that Jordan had been chatting to, who has been living on this island for six years. He offered to take us to a hotel (I’m not sure I can call it that, cos saying hotel conjures up images of bellboys, minibars and walls that go all the way up to the roof, but it’s $5 a night. I’m writing this on my bed in this hotel on our first and possibly only night in this accommodation, and already we’ve made an executive decision to stick to a $10 or more accommodation budget… Anyway this French Canadian Claudio took us to the hotel (after spending an hour in a bar at the port waiting for Emma to stop looking so green) in his pick-up truck, saving us $25. He also picked up some local hitchhikers, a lady and her two kids, and the (pretty large) lady very considerately took a seat on Emma’s backpack. That was fine though and we got to our hotel in one piece. Then we both took a shower (well it was a hose coming out of the wall with ice-cold water, but at least there was water), and Emma’s shower had a massive toad in it. I think she’s having an unlucky day… Then we had dinner in the hotel (under $4 for a massive meal and $1 for a rum and coke)  with a bunch of other people staying there.

It’s a nice area, very rural, and you can hear the frogs here, they’re so loud and make an awesome noise and they’re everywhere. I’m currently in the room listening to the wind howling through the 5-inch gap between the wall and the roof and trying to avoid the cockroaches that are coming in under the walls. It sounds like a hurricane out there and a part of the roof below us fell down… Good night’s sleep ahead?

Here’s a quick rundown of the places we’ve stayed so far:

1st cabinas in Manuel Antonio: $25 1 night
Private room and bathroom. Ripped off. Lumpy mattress and not perfect location. Hot showers. Had a nice dog.
2nd hotel Manuel Antonio: $15 2 nights
Private room and bathroom. Comfy and clean and very close to the beach. Cold showers.
Tent: $14 2 nights
Shared showers and toilets. Arenal Backpacker’s Resort. Brilliant tent, comfy mattresses, plug socket, lights and wifi. Good fun. Very hot showers and a pool.
Monteverde Sleepers hostel: $12.50 with breakfast 2 nights
Great hostel. We had a private room and bathroom and a massive breakfast thrown in. Oh, and a great view of the rainforest and lake.
San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua, Casa Romano: $10 1 night
Private room and bathroom but no water, not even in the toilet, so we couldn’t flush it. They didn’t give us a discount – bad review on tripadviser for them!
Isla de Ometepe $5 1 night so far!
Private (but very ropey) room with shared bathroom. Ceiling and floor don’t meet the wall and there are cockroaches running around. Due to massive gap in wall the howling wind is extra terrifying. Also, ceiling made of six different pieces of thin wood. Will we make it through the night?

I’m posting this 3 days later as we had such rubbish internet on the island. So much has happened in the last 3 days but I’ll have to find a few hours spare to write all about it! All I’ll say for now is that I’m in Granada, Nicaragua in an AMAZING hostel and I absolutely love this town so much. More to come soon…