Friday, February 5, 2010

Borders and Volcanoes

Tonight is our second night in Costa Rica. Last night we stayed not too far from the border on the Pacdific, and today we rode into the mountains and to the Carribean.

we were advise to expect the worst at the Nicaragua / CR border and it was pretty bad. To start, it was 110 deg F in the shade. Essentially we had to clear immigration to exit Nicaragua, export our bikes, clear immigration into CR, buy bike insurance for CR, and import the bikes into CR. It took 3.5 hours.

I think a reasonable teenager could go through the process and make ten suggestions on how to makes things run smoother and improve commerce for both countries. The trucks were lined up 5 km before the border on a two lane road, making for some interesting 'euro' style center lane bike riding. And one has to consider the paperwork as a test. For example, to export the bikes from Nicaragua we needed a form signed by a person that inspects the bikes ( in my case I found an official searching through a tourist's backpack and explained in very broken Spanish what I wanted ,complete with hand signals and the twisted throttle movement to identify 'moto'. He never did look at the bike, just signed), then we needed a policeman to verify the first signature ( I guess) and we found him under shade tree, then we took all the signatues and original bits of paper to a lady so she could pass the pile to the person beside her. There, bikes exported ( actually importation cancelled).

During the afternoon I needed to use the 'banos'. This was a healthy sign and it meant my kidneys were still working in the heat. We were the only ones lugging around 2 litre bottles of water. I found one , locked. A kind old janitor lady that said she could open the door, for 3 Cordobas ( 8 cents). I paid. She then said for the change remaining from the 10 Cordobas I gave her she could get paper. I assume she wasn't getting me a Globe and Mail. Since I fortunately didn't require any sort of paper I declined.

We were beat when we were set to role. we went a short distance into CR and crashed (as in slept).

Costa Rica is of course similar other nearby countries but yet different. It is much cleaner, and seems more orderly. The towns and businesses seems much better off. Nicaragua is desperately poor but Costa Rica seems better off. Of course tourism is a big deal here and the goverment is stable and democratic. There were relief groups in Nicaragua here and there but in the mountains of Costa Rica there is a great number of USO trucks and other organizations.

We are not in a particularily touristy area. We are in the jungle and there is a bit of Eco-toiurism around. I tried to swing a deal with the hotel owner tonight to allow me to do laundry in his machine but he said he depends on rainwater for laundry and since the dry season is here he doesn't want to use the water. At least think that is what I asked for. I may have asked if I could marry his cat.

Tomorrow we head a bit north to the Puerto Limon, where the U nited Fruit Company started the whole banana exportation thing 100 years ago. There are banana plantations all around, but it is a run down port and will just be a drive through on the way to a northern Panama border complete with a train bridge crossing ( planks laid down for cars and bikes).

Town Square in Grenada, Nicaragua

Granada, Nicaragua

This tree shows how windy it is on the main highway in the valley. The bike is in a constant lean.

Volcanoes on a island in lago de Nicargua

La Cruz, Costa Rica

An Active Volcano, Arenal in the mountains of Costa Rica.

1 comment:

  1. you guyses are troopers. Those photos are incredible. I take it you weren't in the mood to be snappin photos at the border crsoogins. Love the videos. Smooth rindin to you.