Nicaragua - People and places

Travel by land from Nicaragua to Costa Rica

Many people choose to visit both Nicaragua and Costa Rica on a trip to Central American and have asked about the best way to travel between the two countries.  It's a really simple process and here I am going to lay it out step by step with approximate times (the timing can vary greatly depending on the time of year you travel - mostly depending on how long the immigration procedures take).

There are several international bus lines available: TicaBus and Transnica are the most popular. The basically offer the same services and quality.  On this occasion we traveled with Transnica.

The Transnica agency is located behind la Catedral Metropolitana, near the DGI offices.  In San José, here is the address.  It's well known by taxi drivers.  Here is the link to their website, which has a lot of problems and seems pretty cheesy at the moment.  We purchased our tickets in person a few days in advance and directly from the offices.  That is probably what you will have to plan on doing whether you are in Managua or in Costa Rica.  The cost from Managua to San José at 5, 7 or 10:00 a.m. is $28.75.  The cost from San Jose to Managua at 4, 5 and 9:00 a.m. is $26.50.

When you cross into either country, the law requires you to have proof of passage leaving the country.  In other words, if you want to go one way into Costa Rica, you either have to buy a return ticket (you can leave it without a date and it doesn't expire) or show them your onward travel ticket (such as leaving from the San José airport, which was our case).  If you are backpacking and don't have set plans, basically you have to buy the second ticket getting you out of the country at some point in the future.  A convenient law for these busing companies....

OK. Ready for this?  Here is comes, down to the finest details.  If you don't see something you need to know, please feel free to leave a comment and I will be happy to get you the information.


We opted for the earliest bus - 5 a.m.  They ask you to be there at 4:15 a.m.
Check in - line to show tix, weigh and check bags (1 bag, 35 kg each)
Fill out 1 customs form and 2 immigration forms


 
Transnica has a nice fleet of new and very comfortable buses.  Take a jacket for the AC.
The bus left the terminal at 5:07 a.m.  Along the way it stopped in Masaya, Granada, Rivas and a few other spots to pick up passengers.  In any of those cities you can board the bus or get off on your return (same ticket price).  If you are boarding other than in Managua, you can buy tickets at local agencies.  Just ask around.

A bus agent passes through the bus a bit before 7 a.m. taking everyone's passport and collecting a fee: C$20 each for Nicaraguans and $3 for foreigners.  They take care of the movement at the border.

Note: Nicaraguan residents must have an exit visa.  It can be purchase the C$200 at the border, just like it can be purchased at Migración Offices or at the Managua International Airport.

We arrived at the Nicaraguan border, Peñas Blancas, at 7:50 a.m.   We got off the bus at 7:55 a.m.

Here you have at least 20 minutes to check out the duty free stores.  I bought coffee at two of the three duty free shops.  It's better to buy it in Nicaragua at La Union or Pali - it's cheaper.  i.e. Cafe Las Flores here costs $10.  In La Union it costs 6.50.  A liter of Flor de Caña 7 years costs $9.  I bought it for $7.40 (a good sale).

At 8:40 a.m. we moved out to the Costa Rican border.

There we had to take all our luggage and pass through immigration and customs.  Remember that if you don't have CR residency or proof of being in transit ( a ticket leaving Costa Rica) you must purchase one at one of the few ticket counters outside the Immigration building.

After getting into the immigration area, you must leave your bags against the west wall and wait in line to be attended.  After immigration, you again get your bags and take them to the customs X-ray machines.  Turn in your customs form and collect your bags to put them again into the bus.

At 9:20 a.m. we were on our way to San Jose.   En route, we arrived at Liberia at 10:25 a.m. (a popular jumping off spot for the beaches in Guanacaste, Costa Rica). 

At 12:00 noon we had our first highway robbery - a restaurant called El Malinche.   Arroz con pollo and a few sides for c2700 (more than $5).  A 600 ml Coke for almost $2.  Longing for Nicaraguan prices...pura vida.  About 1 1/2 hours from here 'til the airport.... (they say). 

We arrived at the airport at 2:10 p.m.  After looking for the Courtyard Marriott shuttle, we were off to the hotel.  It's a great place to stay cause its only 0.3 km from the airport.  The shuttle runs every half hora from 4 a.m. to 12 midnight.

For what it's worth, Wal-Mart (with its Costa Rican selection of goods) is right next door (a minute walk).  Got some good soup, bakery goods and drinks there...a lot cheaper than the hotel lobby "restaurant" that had basic food for $10+.

The following morning, we awaited the shuttle but didn't get on the first one.  15 minutes later he was back and the airport is just a 5 minute drive so we arrived just fine.  No wait  in the airport departure tax line (everybody who is a tourist has to pay the hefty $29.00 tax before checking in for your flight).  Sometimes they say it is an hour wait.  You can prepay in the hotel for a $4 service fee (Might be worth it for one or two persons but not for a group).


That's the trip from Nicaragua to Costa Rica, in this ocasion to catch a pretty cheap flight out of Costa Rica.  A incident free trip if you know what you are doing....you can read a related article here.



Dyango









What a great offering was given by Dyango last night in the Rubén Darío Theater in Managua, Nicaragua.  He looked tired, aged albeit, but what a voice and what a noble man!  His song was powerful and soul piercing.  No one would dare call him old - Dyango is a classic!  He sang for almost two hours, finishing up with the much solicited "Corazón Mágico" and then a tango encore.  However, one of the more powerful and moving renditions was "Volverte a Ver" and "Cuando quieras, donde quieras".  

He won the crowd over my expressing his admiration and quick love affair with Nicaragua, even hinting that he might buy his own island on the Caribbean Coast, especially when he found out they were being sold for "$100,000".  He said that he ate a cut of Nicaraguan steak that he had never had before - even being a steak lover as much as he is - and loved it!  He sang "Son tus perjúmenes mujer" by the famous Nicaraguan compose/signer Carlos Mejía Godoy.

It was a bitter sweet evening as Dyango's almost 50 years of music performances come to an end.  I'm sure there were some in the sold out Rubén Darío theater that knew very little about Dyango's rich musical repertoire before tonight.  I'm sure they are listening to Dyango today on iTunes....I am!

¡Qué gran regalo nos dio Dyango anoche en el Teatro Rubén Darío en Managua, Nicaragua.  Lucía cansado, aún envejecido, pero ¡qué voz y qué nobleza!  Su cantar era potente y llegó al alma. Nadie se atrevería a llamarlo viejo - Dyango es un clásico! Él cantó durante casi dos horas, terminando con la tan solicitada "Corazón Mágico" y luego un tango en el encore . Sin embargo, una de las más poderosas y conmovedoras interpretaciones fue "Volverte a Ver" y "Cuando Quieras, Donde quieras".

Supo ganar a la multitud expresando su admiración y enamoramiento con Nicaragua, incluso aludió a qué quizá  comprara su propia isla en la costa del Caribe Nicaraguense, especialmente cuando se enteró de que se vendía en "100.000 dólares".  En Managua comió un corte de carne que nunca había probado antes - aún siendo un gran amante de la carne - y ¡le encantó!  Para rematar, cantó "Son tus perjúmenes mujer" del famoso cantautor Nicaraguense Carlos Mejía Godoy.

Una noche de emociones encontradas....llegó a su fin sus casi 50 años de interpretación en el escenario.  Estoy seguro de que hubo algunos en el teatro Rubén Darío que sabía muy poco acerca del rico repertorio musical de Dyango antes de anoche. Estoy seguro de que hoy están escuchando Dyango en iTunes .... yo lo hice!

Achiote




 



The inedible fruit is harvested for its seeds, which contain annatto, also called bixin. It can be extracted by stirring the seeds in water. It is used to color food products, such as cheeses, fish, and salad oil. Sold as a paste or powder for culinary use, used especially in the Nicaraguan famous "pork with yuca".

Esta fruta no comestible se cosecha por sus semillas que contienen annatto, tambien llamado bixin. Se extrae mediante mover las semillas en agua. Luego se ocupa para colorar comida como queso, pescado y aderezo. Se vende como pasta o polvo para uso en la cocina. Es especialmente famoso en Nicaragua por su uso en "chancho con yuca".