Friday (Viernes) 3rd September, 2010
Day 539

San Jorge, Nicaragua
San Jorge, Nicaragua
Miles: 52,063
N 11.45971°
W 85.79104°

This morning it was raining and the heavy clouds convinced us that it would rain all day so there seemed no point hanging around the coast. So we headed for the border. This turned out to be a good decision as heavy rain persisted almost all the way to the Costa Rica/Nicaraguan border.


The border was quite an experience. At the Costa Rica exit station we negotiated a price with one of the ever present assistants. Once agreed he jumped on the running board of the vehicle and guided us through a maze of parked 18 wheelers to a loading dock that turned out to be the customs inspection station where vehicle papers where processed. At our helpers insistence we paid no attention to the line of 20 people waiting at the window and pushed in at the front of the line. A 5 minute wait and the only clerk took the papers stamped them, signed them and handed them back to Nina. We walked to a nearby copying stall and got one copy of the exit paper and took it back to the window. More signing and stamping and Nina got it back together with a smaller ticket. Back in the vehicle we were guided up the road to park beside a building where in short order we filled out forms and had our passports stamped for exit. A bit farther up the road some police examined the paper work and we were done for the exit from Costa Rica.

Entering Nicaragua we were surrounded by an army of helpers and we selected Charlie. First stop was a spray booth. A $5 fee and the vehicle plate number. We were then directed up the road to park in an area between two buildings and a loading dock. By then we realized that our helper Charlie had acquired two additional members for our team. For the next hour they went to various windows with various papers and we paid various fees. I think the process went something like this. First find a customs inspector to look at the vehicle and get him to fill out and sign a form. Take that to the head customs guy and have him sign it. Go to an office (not the one with the loading dock) and find the office that sells Nicaraguan insurance and buy some. Keep the paper. Go to immigration - the other building - and get stamped in to the country. Go back to the other first building and line up at the vehicle window and have the vehicle papers processed. With all this done get into the vehicle and drive out of the parking area towards the exit. Some more signing of the vehicle papers and we were done.

It took a little over an hour to do the entire process at both borders. But it was chaos and we would have been there for a long time without our army of helpers. Mind you I am sure their help cost us more money than the $40 we paid for them. I am sure some of the fees we paid had kick backs built in.

Camping We stayed on the lake front at San Jorge. However the lake water was high so it was not possible to park on the sand right next to the lake so we parked at the curb on the road that leads the ferry. This meant no breeze and a hot night plus a lot of noise as the locals liked to gather on sidewalk there and talk to pass the evening. Not one of our more comfortable locations.