Fun at the Nicaraguan Border…

I’m a huge fan of waterfalls, and there was no chance I was going to miss the La Fortuna Waterfall, a huge waterfall about 5 kilometers away from La Fortuna.

The rest of the day was driving on bumpy roads, as we tried to reach the Nicaraguan Border. We passed through an unspoiled landscape sometimes interrupted by small villages and fruit plantages. It took us about six hours to get from La Fortuna the to the Panamericana, the main “highway” that runs trough the entire country and on to panama. But calling it a highway is a bit misleading compared to western standards, as this road contains potholes up to the size of a small car – no kidding.

The Nicaraguan border was one of the “highlights” of the day. It turned out that crossing the border and getting the passport stamped wasn’t that easy at all. We “left” Costa Rica and approached a building which we thought was the Immigration office for Nicaragua. As soon as we left the car we where surrounded by people. One guy was holding Nicaraguan Money right into my face and said “You need changing money, Costa Rica money and Dollar no good in Nicaragua!”. Another guy was a bit more fluent in English and we asked where we could get our passport stamped. He showed us the way to an office, which already had a very long line of people waiting for their passports to be stamped. Craig asked if we could bribe (bestechen for the Germans) someone, so we could get “on the fast lane”. The guy walked away, talked to some people returned with a police officer. Six other people also showed up and it seemed like they where all working together as they where whispering to each other and with the police officer in Spanish. Yep – these are the moments you wish to understand that stupid language..

The police-officer looked at us and took us into the immigration office. Craig tried to give him some money, but he declined. He gave a sign to the immigration officer and told us to walk up to a desk. The immigration officer seemed quite pissed and it was a bit awkward to surpass all the people who where already waiting. But we got a stamp into our passport! Unfortunately it turned out that it wasn’t the one we needed to get to Nicaragua. Instead those people had talked us into immigration into Costa Rica again. The police officer walked away, but the group of six people stayed with us.

If you think that it would have been the right time to start running, we felt the same way! But we where told that we had get the Nicaraguan stamp too so we could re-enter Costa Rica. Fist they wanted both of us to come with them and let the police-officer, who had “helped us” with the immigration office to watch our rental car, but we declined that, deeming it too risky to get the car stolen or something. So I stayed with the car and Craig started walking towards the border with some of the guys. One of them stayed with me at the car. But Craig returned soon and said that he would need more money, about 30 Dollars to get the stamp. As it did start do sound more and more complicated, we simply decided to try and leave this weird place. Luckily we could easily re-enter Costa Rican soil and we left the place as fast as we could. We drove about 80 kilometers south to a city called Liberia and stayed in a small hotel. Later I found out that it would have been much easier to enter Nicaragua and the cost would have been somewhere around five dollars.