This April, I went on an adventure to Costa Rica and Nicaragua with my friend Cristina. I had never been to Nicaragua before so I was quite excited to make the journey happen. Along with going to a new country, I had the chance to visit my friend Brendan down there who had purchased some land in the area and had been living in the country since January. Our plans were quite loose and we just let our trip come together as natural as we could. Here’s a quick rundown of the trip with some pictures.
Prequel – Making the trip happen.
- Flew from PDX to LAX (6:50am to 9:15am).
- Pro Tip: I find that offers of chocolate or other gifts work well when boarding a plane. I don’t do this every time, but I have found that a gift will bring potentially free drinks and better service (this was found to be true during both flights.)
- Five hour layover we used to eat food, attempt to break into an aparment pool, lay in the grass outside of said apartment instead, and have some drinks at a fun bar, Melody Bar and Grill.
- Flew from LAX to LIR (Liberia, Costa Rica; 2:40pm to 9:05pm).
- $20 taxi from Liberia airport to our hostel, La Posada del Tope in Liberia.
- Met up with Cristina’s Costa Rican friend that happened to be in Liberia for Easter from San Jose that she knew from Portland.
- Rented a car ($54 for 2 days) cause taxis cost too much.
- Drove to and spent the entire day playing at Playa Flamingo with her friend’s family.
- Check out Coco Loco Bar for tasty drinks. Get the Coco Loco – yummm!
- Cristina’s friends hooked us up with half off of one of the local adventure parks ($50 each – normally closer to $100), Buena Vista Adventure Center.
- Canopy Tour/Zip Lining
- Water Tube Tobagan
- Horse Back Riding
- Hot Springs
- Coffee Tasting
- Local Snacks
- Made friends and visited their super fancy hotel, Hotel Riu.
- Swam after the sun went down in the sea waters outside the hotel and found out they were bioluminescent!
- More or less got kicked out of the resort cause we weren’t guests, so we bounced.
- Bused from Liberia (Tica Bus; $30 each) to the border of Nicaragua.
- Border crossing was a couple hours and fees were around $20.
- Bused into Rivas where we met up with Brendan after taking a tuk-tuk (bike cab).
- Enjoyed some liquid libations and took a car taxi to San Juan Del Sur.
- Walked the beach and the town, hung out with Jesus (statue), and shared a room at Yajure Surf Hostel.
- Playa Yanke – nobody around accept a few surfers. Our own beach oasis!
- Playa Hermosa – eco-resort that had overpriced food and drinks, but quite pretty and a great place to relax.
- Pro Tip: Don’t wade to far out into the ocean water just to find out that the rip tide is a hell of a lot stronger than you think. Also – if you’re gonna get pulled out into the water like I did, make sure there is a helpful surfer in site that’ll save your ass.
- Playa Maderas – sweet little beach to enjoy some cervas and watch the surfers destroy some waves. Great view of the sunset at the local bar near the beach.
- Spent the night on a hammock at The Li’l Aussie Hut – beach-side bamboo building with hammocks all over ran by an Australia couple, Paul and Charlie, and their kids.
- Left The Li’l Aussie Hut in the morning and made our way to the Ometepe Ferry.
- Drove and parked the car onto the ferry and sat on the top deck for the ride ($25 each way with the car and the three of us).
- Went swimming and hiking around the lovely El Ojo de Agua for the afternoon.
- Picked up two hitch hikers (David (Dahveed) and Mára) on our way to our stay for the night ($20 for two beds for the three of us), La Chiponga, who just happened to be staying at the same place.
- David and Mára endeed up cooking an awesome dinner before the end of the day.
- The three of us drove around Volcano Maderas with David and found lodging for the night at Hospedaje La Gloria Comedor which was ran by this amazingly sweet family.
- Seriously, if you ever get to Ometepe and need a place to stay or at least enjoy a meal, then get to this place. The family doesn’t speak much English at all, but they were so wonderful and the place was very affordable. Such cute dogs, a pig, a bunch of chickens, a couple ducks, and a well maintained garden and property. They were a highlight to the trip – they also have a killer spot to enter the lake and enjoy some magical sunsets.
- Hiked a few miles in the heat to the bottom of a surprisingly tall, but weak waterfall, La Cascada de San Ramón. Thankfully the water was cold and refreshing.
- Ended the day with a delicious meal made in the family’s wood fired kitchen stove, an amazing sunset, and finally music with the kids before crashing in my hammock.
- Left Ometepe via the ferry and made the drive North to Brendan’s tree farm near La Paz de Carazo.
- Enjoyed seeing and talking about the structures he and his property partners have built.
- Visited the surrounding farms where Brendan has made friends and played with their farm animals.
- Held my first baby pig, pet my first baby cow, and got to play with some chicks – that was all awesome.
- Went to Granada, a lake-side town with beautiful architecture – though too many tourists.
- Walked around the lovely architecture, enjoyed street art, played pool with locals, and took the libations seriously for our last night in Nicaragua.
- Final night was at a hostel with a hot tub – Hostal Mochilas.
- Said see-you-laters to Brendan and sent him off near his property.
- Dropped the car off at the border after one last drive through this beautiful country.
- Crossing back into Costa Rica was a breeze compared to getting into Nicaragua.
- Ended up being cheaper to get a one-way car rental to Liberia then the airport ($56; bus per person would have been $25 to Liberia).
- One last beach sunset at the Junquillal Bay Wildlife Refuge.
- Last supper at Restaurante Tierra Mar. Great seafood and big drinks!
- Another night in our hostel of choice for Libera, La Pasada del Tope.
Day 9 – Audios Costa Rica. Hello LA and Portland
- Flew from LIR to LAX (9:25 – 2:19pm)
- Another long layover (6 hours) to eat some tasty food and enjoy some drinks while killing time.
- Flew from LAX to PDX (8:15pm – 11:20pm; delayed)
- Had my friend Rick flying in and he gave me a lift home. What a guy!
My Thoughts on Languages
I left this trip with a lot on my mind, most prominent is that I need to learn another language. Though knowing English allows me to get around most everywhere, I find that it doesn’t allow me to interact with the different cultures as much as I’d like.
Since finishing the trip, I’ve done a couple lessons on Duolingo in Spanish every day. I’m going to make some efforts to figure out this language and stick with it. In the last few years, I’ve been to six different Spanish speaking countries and have been able to get by with the very little Spanish that I know, and though I’m alive today, knowing the language would have enhanced all my visits. I don’t have any upcoming trips to Spanish speaking countries lined up, but it’s still worth making the efforts.
If you speak Spanish, let’s chat about your experience learning the language and I’d really appreciate the help fumbling through the language through conversation.