Published: February 22nd 2011February 22nd 2011
Market in Honduran Town
Beautiful vegetables and fruit
KF: We entered Nicaragua on February 18th, and we're starting to feel like old hands at border crossings. We had two little buddies helping us, one who was about 12 years old, and we made it through all the red tape -- exporting old blue Volvo from Honduras, emigration of TT & KF from Honduras, then immigration of TT & KF to Nicaragua, importation of old blue Volvo to Nicaragua, and purchase of Nicaraguan car insurance ($12.00 for 30 days), all done in an hour or so! Quite smooth and no longer anxiety-provoking.
We drove on beautiful paved roads through the spectacular volcanic highlands where it was hot and sunny, on the road to Granada on Lake Nicaragua. The police check stops went without a hitch. Until... Two guys on a 125 cc Suzuki motorcycle in front of us motioned us to pull over. They had police uniforms and pistols tucked into their belts (no holsters). They asked for ID, registration, insurance, import documents, reflective triangles, fire extinguisher. We had them all. Then the boss cop pointed out that the car insurance was in my name (not surprising since the car is legally under my name) and explained that this
We took a route less traveled (inadvertently)
meant that no one else could drive the car. Tarjei (just slightly naive) was astounded! Why had no one explained this at previous police checks? Finally the guy mentioned "cordobas" (the Nicaraguan currency). It was 37 degrees and we were melting beside the freeway, enduring exhaust fumes from a thousand diesel trucks and buses. Finally I said, "Tarjei, I think he just wants money". About $35-40 later we were allowed to depart with me driving. Afterwards, of course, we kicked ourselves for pulling over in the first place -- it was not an official check stop and we could have simply ignored their gestures and pulled past them.
So... live & learn (maybe).
In any case, the rest the trip to Granada was uneventful and we arrived here during poetry week. There are 150 poets from 50 different (all Spanish speaking?) countries, performing all week. Huge crowds gather and cheer for the poems. They sound lyrical and full of emotion, but truthfully, despite all our studying, we recognize only a few words from the poems.
Granada is a beautiful old colonial town with a big cathedral, a museum of chocolate, and an intriguing convent with a garden
Dormant Volcano in background
with many ?7th century ? sculptures of humans with large animal mask heads.
Because the town was filled with poets and poetry fans, lots of the hotels had no vacancies and we were obliged to move upscale -- luxury in fact. Our hotel in the centre of town has several lovely shady quiet courtyards, two swimming pools (tiny, but each has a swim- up bar), and our room has a king sized bed and a jacuzzi. The price is still very modest by North American standards, and it's a beautiful restful oasis in the afternoon heat (well over 30 degrees). We have enjoyed leaving the car parked in secure parking (in the local fire station, where they also washed it for us) and exploring on foot and by horse & buggy.
TT: Monday morning, we picked up the Volvo from secure parking at the fire station and pulled out of Granada. Katy was driving, of course. Much of the drive to the Costa Rica border was along Lake Nicaragua, blustering winds and an active volcano framing the opposite shore. Once again, we saw huge windmill farms, taking advantage of lake winds.
At the Costa Rica - Nicaragua
After the incident with the police, Katy had to drive
border there was the usual scene, guys coming up offering the border services. Not fazed, we picked one and got through aduana and migracion without a hitch. That was leaving Nicaragua. On the Costa Rican side, our San Jose contact Betty Torres (car shipping) had arranged for Chico to meet us and make sure all documents were in order for March car shipment.
Roads have been fine both in Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Two-lane black top and a bit overcrowded. But hardly any speed bumps or pot holes. We put in a long day and checked into the roadside Best Western Casino when we finally arrived in San Jose! Yes, not the usual for us, but an all drinks free 'happy hour' clinched the deal.
Today we head for Drake Bay on the Pacific Coast and our ten days of kayaking and birding!
There are more photos below