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After spending a few crazy and calm days in San Juan Del Sur I am keeping moving south to Costa Rica.
I have been traveling through Central America for four weeks now and this is actually the first time I’ve been alone since I started, aside from one bus ride. That’s kind of crazy considering this is a solo trip but that’s the way it is on the backpacker trail, you meet so many people and there’s always someone going in the same direction.
Meeting people and making new friends from all the over the world is one of the best parts of traveling but there’s something to be said about solo travel. Traveling with other people gives you a safety net of comfort and while that is such a lovely feeling, when I’m alone is when I discover the most about myself. It’s when I’m most out of my comfort zone, I speak more Spanish, and I feel more inspired.
The downside is that it can get lonely, but right now I’m feeling grateful for this time to myself.
The Nicaragua-Costa Rica border
I would rate the Nicaragua-Costa Rica border as the second most confusing border I’ve experienced in Central America next to entering Nicaragua, but It’s still not that bad. You can’t take a shuttle directly through which is annoying, so you have to take a taxi or bus to the border (30 minutes from San Juan), and then walk by foot through immigration to leave Nicaragua where you pay a $3 USD fee.
After passing through the Nicaragua border, you can get on a bus going to Costa Rica but it will stop shortly after to let you out to cross the Costa-Rica border. It took me about an hour when it was all said and done.
I had to show the immigration officer my original plane ticket to Guatemala which made no sense to me but after talking to some friends I realized they were looking for a plane ticket out of Costa Rica, which makes much more sense. I didn’t have that, but for some reason, she accepted my plane ticket from a month ago to another country? I’ve been having pretty good luck at the borders.
Another fun fact I discovered afterward is that drones are super illegal in Nicaragua and they will confiscate yours, yet somehow I still have mine. Thank you, border gods.
I decided to spend a night in Liberia as a stopover before heading to the Nicoya peninsula which doesn’t really have a great reputation, but I wanted to check it out for myself and mainly just not be on a bus for long. There really isn’t a lot in Liberia, it’s called la Ciudad Blanca (the white city) as it used to have roads made of white and dusty material. I walked around a bit by myself before sunset and it was okay, but a lot of people stared at me and beeped their horn. It also has a very Americanized vibe with lots of McDonald’s and Taco Bells around.
I stayed at Hostal Nanku which was cheap and cozy (and even had AC)! The owner of this place is incredibly kind and will provide you with lots of advice about traveling the area. While talking to some other travelers at the hostel I heard about this waterfall nearby so I decided to check it out the next morning before leaving for Tamarindo.
Llanos de Cortez Waterfall
Hostel Nanku is right next to the bus station and from there you can get any bus going to Bagaces or Canas to get to the waterfall ($1). You drive for about 20 minutes and then have to walk 2KM in down a flat road, it was super hot that day but I got a free ride from a local part of the way there.
The waterfall is gorgeous, it’s a huge pool underneath it and you can even get under the waterfall, but the current is quite strong and will push you back out (or at least my weak swimming self). I was surprised that there was a decent amount of people there, about 20 and then when I was walking back out I saw a lot more coming in (around 12:30PM).
Getting to Tamarindo
I made it back to the hostel just in time to grab the 2PM bus to Tamarindo. The local bus is only $2 which is amazing, and it takes about 2 hours so I made it just in time for the beautiful sunset.
I’m really excited to explore more of Costa Rica, it was the first country I ever visited in Latin America and the reason I fell in love with this region of the world. When I was here three years ago we mostly explored inland stops so I am aiming to explore the areas I haven’t been too yet.
I am heading to the Nicoya Peninsula for the next few days where I will hopefully improve my surfing skills! I can go underwater now, so getting on top seems like the most logical choice?