Isla Ometepe
streets of Nicaragua
Typical Nicaraguan bus
bus Isla Ometepe


Hasta luego Costa Rica, Hola Nicaragua – hotel internship Costa Rica (part 5)

The half of our travel time was already over and there were only two weeks left - then I had to go back to the hotel Paraiso del Cocodrilo where I had to start my internship. Beside Costa Rica, we were also interested in the neighboring country Nicaragua. We actually thought that the two countries are very similar but we were wrong – it was like two completely different worlds…

We went to the bus station in Liberia at about 7 o’clock in the morning. There we took a bus which brought us to ‘Penas Blancas’, the border crossing. My feelings were kind of mixed because on the one hand I was looking forward to our trip but on the other hand, we heard and read a few ‘worse’ stories about Nicaragua than about Costa Rica. Especially the Foreign and Commonwealth office is always warning against robbery, theft, malaria etc. However, according to the office you shouldn’t go almost anywhere and beside this, in my opinion you want have any bigger problems if you go through the world with a healthy human understanding and caution. Of course: There can always happen bad things which you can’t foresee or influence…  While entering the bus, the driver changed a few of our Colones in Cordoba and of course this happened to an extremely bad exchange rate, but we didn’t have another choice because somebody told us that the entry fee to Nicaragua was only payable in the national currency.

Chaos and Hustle at the border crossing

After arriving at the border crossing we had to pay a fee for the departure of Costa Rica. Did we really had to pay this or was it the first hustle? We’ll never ever know. Then we dragged our backpack about 300 m further towards the border where the whole chaos began: Everybody wanted to sell us something – taxis, food, drinks, busses, changing money etc. It was really annoying and tiring and the worst of all was, that the so called Nicas or Nicos didn’t understand ‘No, gracias’, they tried it again and again.

We pushed ourselves through all the annoying people and headed towards the entering counter. Full of expectations, we were searching for our well-prepared Cordobas inside our pockets to pay the entry fee, but the extremely unmotivated and unfriendly lady at the counter wasn’t satisfied at all and was driveling something like ‘solo en dolares’. I beg your pardon? Only in dollars? Have we landed in Nicaragua or perhaps in America? We were a little bit confused, how the hell should we get to dollars now… And for the reason we hadn’t any other choice, each of us had to change $10 to a sadly bad exchange rate. Back to the counter we were already a little bit pissed and we just wanted to pay the $8 entry fee, get our stamp and then disappear as quickly as possible from the border. As if! Instead of the previous $8, at once we had to pay $28 each of us! What an effrontery! Once again we squeezed through the crowd, searched for our really last Colones and changed them to dollars. Gladly we could pay everything and got the stamp in our passport. Finally we could go to the busses.

Chicken busses and very cheap taxi drives

We had the following plan: From the border by bus to Rivas, then a taxi to San Jorge and from there by a ferry to the Isla Ometepe, a big volcano island in the middle of Lake Nicaragua. Of course ten different men offered us ten different busses to 10 different prices. But we didn’t want neither an expensive touri bus, nor any other – we were looking for the typical cheap Nicaraguan chicken bus: colorful painted, former American school buses. Finally we found one of this buses and made our way to Rivas. There we grabbed the first taxi. The driver wanted us to pay 80 Cordoba but ultimately we paid him the half, because negotiating works quite easy and well in this country. 40 Cordoba matches about 1 euro, crazy how cheap it was, in Germany you would have paid at least 30 euros for a drive of 15 minutes.

Wobbly seafaring to Isla Ometepe

At the port of San Jorge you could already see the Isla Ometepe with the two active smoking volcanoes. The Island was gigantic and impressive! Actually we wanted to take the ferry, but one of the somewhat unstable looking boats was driving one hour earlier and so we decided to go with this boat. Even before entering the boat, we were warned that we could get wet. Haha, that sounded so super safe! In the end, the one-hour-trip was very funny and you had permanently this gigantic view of the volcanoes – but it was also very wobbly and nothing for people with weak nerves ore people who are seasick.

You can be pleased to read hotel internship Costa Rica part 1, hotel internship Costa Rica part 2, hotel internship Costa Rica part 3 and hotel internship Costa Rica part 4.