This will be a rather short post, covering our 2 ½ weeks in Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Which is fair, since we didn’t spend all that much time there. After Guatemala left us a little rattled despite an otherwise great experience, we were looking forward to a new country. We crossed over into Honduras without any issues and stayed with a family close to the Copan ruins for the night. The next morning we visited the ruins, and were impressed by the intricate and well-preserved stone carvings.While staying with the family, their protective German shepherd somehow got loose from its leash and went after Leika. He pinned Leika on her back, stood over her and wouldn’t let her get away. We used a broom to separate the two dogs, with no visible harm done, minus a scratch on her paw. The family was very apologetic but dogs will be dogs and Leika invaded his territory.
Nikki’s sister Kyra was visiting us in Costa Rica, so we had to be down there fairly quickly. We made the decision to spend more time in Nicaragua than in Honduras, so with only one more stop at D&D Brewery (awesome), we didn’t give the country a fair shot. However, the people we’ve met were very welcoming, and we wish we had spent more time.
After a fairly long day of driving, we arrived at the Nicaragua border, with a totally chaotic border process. We kept running back and forth as it seemed as if nobody had ever done this border crossing before. In the end, we shuffled around a bit and managed to get Leika across the border without any fees again – something we’re getting fairly good at at this point.
So with about a week left before Costa Rica, we skipped the coffee growing highlands of Nicaragua and headed for the coast (though we did buy some coffee on the way, and we’re really pleased that we did). After a quick stop in Leon we headed for the Pacific Coast, where we spent a day surfing in Las Peñitas. That night, we met a bunch of Canadians who were here for the winter, who promptly invited us to their next day’s barbeque. Unfortunately, we passed and headed onwards.
Our next stop would be Masaya National Park, home to an active volcano, although we were quite disappointed after what we’d seen the last few months. We spent the night in Granada, which surprised us as a really pleasant city. As always, Leika recognized it as well and proceeded to do her business in front of the cathedral, sending Nikki on a hunt to find a plastic bag.
The highlight of our stay in Nicaragua was the island Ometepe, consisting of 2 volcanoes in the middle of a freshwater lake. We took the ferry over and spent 2 days there, mostly resting and going on a short hike up one of the volcano. Amazing vistas were everywhere, and Leika had a great time playing with the local pig.
Back on the mainland, we went to the surf beaches of southern Nicaragua, and then crossed over into Costa Rica. At the border, we met a Canadian Sprinter owner who has been living in Costa Rica for a long time. He guided us through the process, which made it pretty easy.
The day before Kyra’s arrival, we drove up to lake Arenal, where we had heard about a microbrewery. Apparently it just changed ownership and we didn’t like it too much. We did visit the local German bakery the next morning to stock up, where Nikki was promptly offered a job at the bakery. She seriously considered it for the next week, excited for a new career option, and only our shipping plans for the Darien Gap made her turn it down. Otherwise there would have been a future with German bread independent of our location – how wonderful that sounds.
Kyra arrived in Liberia and we spent the next week in northern Costa Rica with her. Our first stop was in Tamarindo, where Nikki had previously been at a surf camp – she must have been really good because people remembered her. The next day we started our drive of the Nicoya peninsula, where we were planning to meet Tim. We camped out next to the beach for a night and had a barbeque. Kyra realized in the middle of the night that sleeping in a tent is way too scary, so we managed to sleep 3 in the Sprinter for the rest of her stay. We drove to the southwestern tip of the peninsula the next day, which included a few river crossings. The first one was also the deepest, and as we asked some locals whether our car can do it, they answered with a reassuring “maybe” and if it didn’t work out, “there’s a tractor down the road we could probably use to pull you out.” The ground was gravel but traction was good, so we had no issues with only rear-wheel drive. After Nicoya, we headed back to Lake Arenal where we wanted to do some hiking, but the weather didn’t cooperate. We didn’t want to let the dreary weather ruin our moods, so we hung around the lake for a day and then decided to head back to the sunshine on the coast the next day. There is a great kitesurfing spot in the very north of Costa Rica, close to the Nicaragua border. We spent some time watching people on the water and then found another nice and quiet beach. Driving onto the beach, one local approached us and warned us to watch our stuff, as there were teenagers stealing phones and such.
As we were hanging out at the beach, another local approached us and warned us of petty theft in the area and to watch our things. So, we started discussing – if we’re warned twice and get robbed… that’s just embarrasing. Our discussion then gets suddenly interrupted with firecracker noise. No big deal, we thought, we’ve heard that all the time since crossing into Mexico. A few seconds later, a policeman armed with an assault rifle comes running out of the woods, over a barb wire fence, and starts running down the dirt path along the beach – not 20 feet from our car. 30 seconds later a police truck speeds by with its lights on. For a second, the three of us just stood there, unable to process what was going on. Within a few more seconds, the three of us where throwing everything into the car and taking off. From what we could piece together there were thieves in the area who had stolen “phones” – so it seems the Costa Rican police has a different approach to solving crime. That was our cue and we left for the night. What a great final day for Kyra, true taste of the overlander lifestyle. Except this stuff never happens (at least too often?).