Costa Rica to Nicaragua and Back
We (I was traveling with a married couple--Todd and Shari) drove up to Los Chiles where we would leave the car and get the boat to Nicaragua. On the way up Shari asked me what I had to prove my continuation of travel…I didn’t. I didn’t realize you needed that for over land travel, thought that was only a flight requirement. So we got to Los Chiles, I borrowed a laptop, and booked my flight to come home to the US to visit for a month.
We then walked down toward the river and took care of leaving the country. A new operator recently purchased the boat to make the crossing which made things confusing. The ticket people said go get our passport stamped to exit (including filling out a form) and then buy the ticket. We filled out the form and the immigration people then said we needed a boat ticket before they would stamp us out. Got the $12 ticket to head to Nicaragua and came back in. The immigration officer looked at my form and circled that I had crossed out a typo and rewrote it–can’t do that apparently. Made me fill out a new form. Fill out a new form, wait in line. I had started to write a wrong word and written over top of a few letters this time, but you could plainly see the word I intended to write. He looks me square in the eye, puts his hand to his forehead and hands me two blank forms–try again. Could’ve done without the attitude. Is a form to leave the country really that big of a deal anyways? Apparently to him it was. So I filled it out a third time and went to the other immigration officer who barely looked at the thing before stamping me out–finally.
After I have my stamp I go back to the boat people and sign in with my information and they check my stamp. Not bad timing, have half an hour until the boat is supposed to leave at noon. We finally boarded the boat at 1:45. Apparently the new people are really new because they didn’t check passports before we loaded. So the immigration people came on and checked everybody on the list (70 or 80 people, mostly Nicaraguans heading home) and did a head count. We finally left about two PM. Get headed up to the border and we have to stop at the Nicaraguan military outpost on the river so they can look at the list of passengers. Then for some reason they decide to search the boat. So a half dozen soldiers enter the boat and look through all our bags. More wasted time.
We finally get to Nicaragua and they let those of us returning that day (the three of us and a few Israelis that own a hotel here) go first. Even then by the time we fill out paperwork (which I did wrong again, but this time it wasn’t my fault–fortunately the Nicaraguans don’t really care and just stamped me in anyhow) and got into the city we had to be back to return in twenty minutes. Normally you get two or so hours in the city. Just enough time to grab a snack and some water before getting on the boat to head back.
At least the boat ride back was calmer. Only about a dozen people heading back and no military searches. We got in, cleared customs. Filled out more forms, then got into the country finally. We drove back, got a light dinner about an hour down the road, and I finally got home a bit after 8 PM. What a long day! Although some of the scenery was quite beautiful. Particularly the little bit of San Carlos, Nicaragua I got to see which sits right on Lake Nicaragua.